LGBT activists protest Obama in R.I.
LGBT activists were among those who protested President Obama in Rhode Island on Monday, Oct. 25.
Members of Queer Action of Rhode Island joined anti-war activists and Tea Party members across the street from the Rhode Island Convention Center in downtown Providence. Obama came to the Ocean State to garner support for openly gay congressional candidate and Providence Mayor David Cicilline. The president appeared at a $500 per person fundraiser in downtown Providence and later at a $7,500 per person dinner at a private home on the city’s tony East Side.
Carrying banners and signs, protesters expressed their frustration at what they perceived as a lack of progress on LGBT rights since Obama took office in Jan. 2009.
"We want to remind (Obama) of the promises he made during the campaign," explained Jerilyn Sawyer of Burrillville.
Although Obama has called for a repeal of the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, Sawyer believes the administration has not done enough.
"A lot more work can be done," she said. "Actions are stronger than words."
Heather Curley, another member of Queer Action, said the group wants "don’t ask, don’t tell" to be repealed, along with the Defense of Marriage Act. Curley also wants to see Democrats pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Following the rash of LGBT teenager suicides, Obama recorded a message to as part of the
"It Gets Better" campaign.
Curley commended the president for speaking out, but believes his video isn’t enough. "That was good but he can do a lot better," she noted.
Obama has been the target of several protests from LGBT groups in the last few weeks.
GetEQUAL members protested the president outside a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at basketball player Alonzo Mourning’s Miami mansion on Oct. 11. They blasted Obama for his failure to sign an executive order banning gay and lesbian servicemembers from being discharged under "don’t ask, don’t tell."
HIV/AIDS activists heckled Obama when he traveled to Boston earlier this month to support Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election campaign. The protesters advocated for increased federal HIV/AIDS funding, but members of Join the Impact MA blasted the president for refusing to support marriage for same-sex couples.
A number of gay bloggers have also criticized Obama.
Americablog’s John Aravosis described the president’s track record as "fairly abominable" in a 2009 column. He singled out Obama for his administration’s defense of DOMA. "[He] appears to be making no effort whatsoever to follow through on his promise to see the discriminatory law overturned, while now, remarkably, explaining to us that as the leader of the free world he’s powerless to influence legislation," wrote Aravosis.