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.