I found this on the Whitehouse blog along with the President trumpetting pride month, so I thought I’d take a look through and offer my thoughts on how the President has done, given the mandate and huge majorities during the first congressional session of his term.
Hate Crimes against LGBT Americans
On this, signing the Matthew Shepard Act, and supporting anti-bullying efforts I feel the president has actually done a pretty decent job. I think he’s done as much as could be asked here.
Supporting LGBT Families
The Medicare and Medicaid trojan horse hopefully has made things easier across the country for LGBT families and its a welcome move.
However the State department saying that “we may allow certain trans people to update their passports” is unacceptable, its nice a step forward, but without a “you are a diagnosed fulltime transperson, here is your new passport” policy the situation is open to abuse by state department officials. I suffered similar behavior because of the prejudices at the UK embassy in Washington and eventually had to go over their heads to the Passport Office in London.
The actions to help LGBTQ youth (their recognition) in foster care, homelessness and recognition of LGBT families on the census all help out both provisioning of care, and also providing the vital support to the most vulnerable of all of us.
Ensuring equal access to housing for LGBT families
If you are a HUD program, you are no longer allowed to discriminate against LGBT persons, once those regulations are passed and enforced, it will mean a big change for poor LGBT americans.
Supporting LGBT health
Work on AIDS is nice and all but ignores many of the issues still facing LGBT americans. A real universal healthcare plan would have helped all americans, and made partner healthcare benefits redundant. However we got a weak health reform law, that included specific provisions preventing trans americans from getting coverage for surgery under the healthcare law. Of course the Trans contingent isn’t important enough to fight for, so one of the many compromises given to the republicans, was stabbing us in the back.
Setting precedents in hiring and benefits for LGBT Americans
Its rather nice that the president made it so federal agencies are not allowed to discriminate against transpeople, and that federal employees now can give their partners their federal benefits, but outside the Federal government, its still as bleak and scary for transpeople as before… rather than talking about ENDA, maybe the president could have used some of his political capital to actually get it passed while he had the votes in the house and senate…
Repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Law
The law has yet to be repealed, and seems to be being spun out for as long as possible. It was nice that it was officially repealed, but Dan Choi still cannot rejoin, Katie Miller cannot re-enlist, and LGB troops are still forced to lie.
Even when the law is repealed, transgender troops will face the same discrimination, despite the fact that every other western military has active duty transgender troops in it with no detriment to their operating efficiency. Again the lack of clout that transgender americans have, comes to the fore.
Providing global leadership on LGBT issues
Revoking the ban on HIV positive immigrants was a good move, as was lobbying in Uganda, and other countries, however no such lobbying occurred with Saudi Arabia, Egypt or any other US ally who persecutes LGBTQIA citizens.
The UN support for an anti LGBT violence resolution was a good move, certainly one that the Bush administration would have vetoed. However it falls hollow when the very administration that claims to support respect for LGBT families, is breaking them up due to the discriminatory immigration laws they still enforce.
Honoring LGBT History
The president did honor significant LGBT history moments, and while many would like his support for a Harvey Milk national holiday, its not as critical as many other legislative things.
Supporting LGBT progress
It was a nice political move to stop defending DOMA, but he had 2 years with massive majorities to pass a marriage equality bill through the Congress, and did not. The refusal to defend DOMA feels more like a scrap thrown our way, than a concerted effort towards marriage equality.
ENDA, and the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Acts would be lovely, and I’d have loved to have seen them in the 111th congress, but again no move there.
Its nice to see the president talk about a safe and supportive environment for LGBT students, but how can he hope to have that, when there is still official discrimination at the hands of his discrimination.
As far as grade goes, I feel the president deserves a D minus. However the only reason it is above an F, is that at least in tone the president has made it clear that discrimination is no longer the official policy of the Federal Government. He’s not a crazy republican nut job, and he’s done some good, he just should be doing a lot more. Not next year, not next month, not even next week, Today.
The religious right is screaming that the LGBTQIA rights agencies reacted “too quickly” to the presidential statement on DOMA’s constitutionality.
What they fail to realize quite simply is that these arguments are being made daily in the court room, and in the public arena. They knew there was a possibility of the president refusing to defend the law, and so they prepared possibile briefs to use in such a case.
That said they should be paranoid, we are out to get them, we are planning to turn them gay, so don’t let the gay bed bugs bite!
I was reading this piece on the NOM blog about lack of DOMA defense, and I was planning to write a piece about how it proves that the Republicans are LGBTQIA-phobic bigots.
However despite not finding the smoking gun I was looking for, I found something rather hopeful.
If you look at the 8 candidates interviewed, who exclude the self-aggrandizing Herman Cain, the results are rather interesting. Of the 8 selected, only one actually said “I will continue to do everything in my power to fight back against Barack Obama’s attacks on Marriage” from everyone’s favorite lunatic Michelle Bachmann.
We’ve got a ” This is yet another example of our president’s effort to erode the very traditions that have made our country the greatest nation on earth.” from Rick ‘really doesn’t like his internet nickname’ Santorum. A light confused rebuke from Mike “god’s law before the constitution’” Huckabee “That’s hypocritical. It’s hypocritical and it’s dishonest, because when he ran for president, Chris, he said he supported traditional marriage. He’s on the record. Now, the question is was he dishonest then? Is he dishonest now? Or did he change his view, and if he did when and why?”. This triad of half hearted candidates is rounded off by Tim “i’m a real conservative, i have chest hair and everything” Pawlenty, in one full breath saying “I firmly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, as President Obama told us he believed in 2008. But now President Obama and his Justice Department would have us believe that traditional marriage laws are unconstitutional. I oppose the Justice Department’s political decision to reverse its policy defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal statute passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. The job of the Justice Department is to enforce and defend laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. I am disappointed that the President and his Justice Department have abdicated this responsibility, all for the sake of partisan political gain”.
Newt Gingrich came out with “The President is replacing the rule of law with the rule of Obama. The President swore an oath on the Bible to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed, not to decide which laws are and which are not constitutional.”. All Mitt Romney could say was the decision was “an unfortunate mistake, the President has an obligation as chief executive to enforce and defend the laws of the nation. He should not abdicate that responsibility based on his own interpretations and personal views.”.
The new kid on the block, Mitch Daniels admitted the issue was unimportant for him via a spokeswoman saying “hasn’t, commented and with other things we have going on here right now, he has no plans.”.
Finally the reality TV star who makes Snooki look presidential, Sarah Palin actually ignored the call and has yet to get back to NOM.
So we have one virulently anti-marriage equality candidate, who probably needs some anti-psychotics to make the black helicopters go away. Three people who say “traditional marriage is being attacked” but fail to take a strong anti-equality position. There’s two “president isn’t doing his duty in defending an indefensible law” candidates. On candidate who’s not given it any thought to the situation, and one candidate who can’t be bothered to return a phone call.
Now I’m not saying that this group of comedy misfits are not dangerous or LGBTQIA-phobic and given the chance would love to burn all of us at the stake or at least drive us back into the closet. What I am saying is that these guys aren’t exactly coming out guns-a-blazing for hatred… I guess they know gay-bashing isn’t going to win them 2012…
I’m not expecting the President to actually grow a backbone and fight for equality, because that sounds too much like being a progressive, but at least the country has changed enough that the gay bashers are worried that they can’t exactly win votes from independents by bashing LGBTQIA folk.
Yup you did read that right, I agree with the right wing in some areas. President Obama is being a coward on the DOMA situation. He’s not actually standing up for marriage equality, he’s just saying that he’s not going to defend it any more.
President Obama is not a particularly progressive left wing president, he’s a centrist president, who frequently slams the left wing for daring to challenge him.
In this case I’m talking about a hypothetical Obama with a backbone who gets up on his podium with all the media and watching. This is what I hope he’d say.
“My fellow Americans, I want to speak to you about a situation that affects so many of our friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and ourselves. That is the problem of intolerance being used against them, in so many ways. It is than 30 years after the Stonewall Riots, 30 years since the assassination of Harvey Milk, 30 years since the AIDS crisis was ignored by Ronald Reagan. Despite this, there is still terrible intolerance against LGBTQIA americans.
In the past I have not stood up for true equality, and for that I apologize. I allowed brave men and women to be dismissed from the US military because I did not act sooner. I failed to act on ENDA passage and DOMA repeal.
However that time is over, I am now going to make the moto of my administration, ‘equality for all’ and will work night and day to make America the most equal and tolerant country on earth from this day forward.
I recognize there are people of faith who will object, and I would like to assure them that I will not be interfering in their lives and liberties. But I do need to take them to task for two key points, firstly that my marriage and your marriages are NOT threatened by gay marriage. Secondly there is no difference between loving straight and gay families when they raise children.
There was a time when someone would look down on someone like me, and that would have been entirely socially aceptable, even after the passage of the Civil Rights act, but now its come to a point where those who are white supremacist are no longer a part of our political fabric and are an insignificant minority, and I look forward to the day when LGBTQIA phobic people are in a similar situation
This is not an extreme or radical position, it is a centrist position of acceptance and american values. I want to have signed marriage equality and ENDA protections into law before November 2 2012. I know many of you out there are thinking that makes re-election harder, but I know the American people, they are fair, they are just, and they are righteous, and standing for equality is standing for them.
If you want to make intolerance a part of your plank, then in the words of former President Bush ‘Bring it On’”.
Sadly this is just a happy thought, no more, the chances of Obama actually saying anything close to this is laughably small. He like the rest of the democratic leadership will fail to actually act on their claim of support for LGBTQIA people.
If the President were to truly stand for equality and use the presidential bully pulpit to talk about the real issues of equality, then 2012 could be the year that the wedge issue of equality could be used against the republicans.
You cannot be against gay equality and not be against gay people…
Finally after 2 years, despite it being clearly immoral and unconstitutional, the hated Defense of Marriage Act is no longer going to be defended by the justice department.
This obviously doesn’t mean that the Whitehouse is actually pushing for marriage equality, that would show too much backbone, but it just means that they are officially no longer fighting actively against marriage equality.
Surprisingly my friend Maggie, who I’ve had a stilted e-mail conversation with over the past few days has been almost vibrating with rage at this.
Here’s Fox News interviewing her, and not questioning any of the issues about it.
(video found via PRIDEinUtah)
Fox clearly ignored the fact that its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender protections needed, not just Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual. It should be pointed that two highly qualified legal scholars, President Obama and Eric Holder are lawyers, and so can render a legal opinion, not a “feeling”.
I am worried that it does lead the way in giving future republican presidents the ability to refuse to defend, say health insurance or hate crimes legislation.
DOMA is an example of irrational bigotry, as we all know. It violates the full faith and credit clause of the constitution preventing legal marriages crossing state lines.
NOM is screaming for their chamber of commerce bought congress to step up for bigotry.
This whole situation still feels like scraps thrown to us by a lipservice Democratic party, but at least they have got NOM completely flustered.
Via NOM’s continually helpful blog
One of the last “Fuck You’s that George Bush left the people of America was the so called conscience clause. What it essentially means that if you are in the medical field, from the hospital administrator to the pharmacist and you object to something on moral grounds you can say “I think this is wrong” and get to bring things screaming to a halt and you can’t be fired for doing it.
This could mean that essentially it was legal for a catholic doctor to not only refuse to give a rape victim the morning after pill, but also refuse to refer the patient to another doctor. It would also mean that if a Pharmacist was opposed to birth control, they could refuse to fill the prescription. If your primary care doctor, needs to write your referrals, and he doesn’t feel its moral to send you for a potentially life saving termination, he would not even allowed to be told off for such behavior.
Now there were claims that “you can always go elsewhere”, well firstly in hospitals rape victims are generally in need of one stop shop treatment. That means rape kit, morning after pill, antibiotics and retroviral meds. Now I don’t understand how as a doctor you can say No to a raped woman, period, I don’t care what your beliefs are, if you are dealing with a raped woman and she wants the morning after pill, you give it to her, and if you don’t I want you seeing the inside of a jail cell for causing trauma to a rape victim.
As far as the less immediate stressful situation of giving out contraception. Lets say you are a woman who lives in a small town with only one pharmacy, and your pharmacist doesn’t believe in supplying birth control to you because of her beliefs. While there may be ways round, it certainly penalizes you exercising your legal right to birth control because of the “morality” of your pharmacist.
The final example is the most scary, and yes generally you may be able to switch your primary care doctor, or go to the emergency room, but essentially the gatekeeper to your medical care is refusing to give you access to the care you need.
You may have beliefs about what is right and wrong that might be different to mine, however you as a doctor have a moral obligation to give me the care I need, and leave your beliefs outside the office. If you do not, you have no place being a doctor, plain and simple.
Thankfully President Obama has repealed most of the aspects of this obscene executive order but has left in exceptions where nurses and doctors cannot be compelled to participate in abortions or sterilizations. Now it seems to me that its possible for a doctor or a nurse to avoid being involved in either. I think provided its limited to specific circumstances in that a Doctor may not be pushed to do a termination, under the proviso that he refers the woman to a doctor who will do the referral at no financial penalty to her. The nurse may be more tricky, but if they are working at a hospital that provides abortion services and is expected to help out in surgery, they should change to a hospital or a position that does not expect her to assist in surgery. I’m not sure if thats the interpretation of the new rules but that is my understanding.
So its a big step forward, for people’s rights to medical care, and I am please that President Obama has finally reversed this toxic policy.
Thanks to One News Now for complaining about this.