Wednesday, June 17, 2009

President Obama's Big Decision on Gay Rights

President Obama will have done a great thing today when he signs a memorandum extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. Since taking office in January, President Obama has done more for gay rights than any president in history. Yes, in history. He signed an LGBT Proclamation on June 1st - the first in 8 years. He granted his gay diplomatic staff benefits for their families. He has hired over 100 openly gay Americans to serve in his administration. He has called for Congress to pass The Matthew Shepherd Hate Crime Bill (the House did; its stalled in the Senate). He has ordered The Department of Defense and the Pentagon to review ways the Don't Ask Don't Tell (or DOMA) policy can be repealed.

While there have been some missteps and mistakes along the way, I am very happy that President Obama also:

- is in constant contact with leading LGBT groups, in an effort to keep them abreast of his staff's ongoing federal review of the more than 1000 rights that need to be updated to benefit gay partners.

- personally invited hundreds of openly gay couples and their kids to the annual, family friendly White House Easter Egg Hunt. This is big because a president has NEVER done that.

- hired Fred Hochberg to head the Import Export Bank, which is one the highest, and most important appointments of an openly gay American in the history of presidential politics.

But of course, none of this is new for President Obama. He has targeted discrimination against gays in housing and employment. And, as an Illinois State Senator, he co-sponsored a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. (The measure became law after Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate).

Indeed, there is much more to do with respect to LGBT issues. President Obama would even acknowledge that. But just because he is not moving fast enough for some activists, doesn't mean he has no intention of keeping his promises. Critics, foes and detractors may have legitimate issues and concerns, but no one can characterize what President Obama has done as insignificant, or label it as "crumbs".

Think about it: he inherited 2 wars, a horrible international image of the presidency, the worst economy since the great depression, a terrible housing crisis that has deflated property values, and so much more. With everything on his daily plate over the past five months, I'd say President Obama has done a very good job. But hey, he's just getting started. He can do more on gay rights, and I believe he will. Stay tuned.


  1. Wow. I didn't know he had done that much on gay issues. That's great. I wonder why Rachel Maddow hasn't mentioned most of this on her show.

  2. I know someone who works for Obama. He's gay, and I'm sure he was thrilled to learn that his partner has benefits. This is a good first step. Fantastic.

  3. Go Obama! I with his LGBT critics would look at his 5 month record on LGBT issues. Keep up the great work. Onward and upward Mr. President. :)

  4. Great, great, great news. Has President Obama been perfect on LBGT issues? No. But he has been busy, and has played a significant role in moving the Matthew Shepherd Bill along.

    No one will be perfect on any issues. I just hope some of the LGBT community realize that President Obama has so much on his plate. He hasn't even gotten around to illegal immigration yet, which is a big, big issue.

    He's done more in his 1st 5 months than any president in history. He's not done. Particular critics should stop saying he's broken his promises to the gay community (because he hasn't) and stop criticizing him for not moving at a pace some have pre-arranged for him. He sets his pace, not them.

    He's not prefect. He makes mistakes. But don't say he isn't trying. He's done quite a bit. And I bleieve he is going to do more.

  5. I look at this as an important first step.

  6. I agree 2morrowknight! President Obama has so much on his plate. Besides, did Obama ever give a specific date when gays would have this or that? No. He never did. He's been great so far. Like you said, he can do more, and will likely do more.

    Bush did next to nothing in his 8 years for gays. But yet impetuous gay activists are calling Obama nasty names because he can't do more for gays 5 months (5 months!) into his presidency? It doesn't make sense.