Obama’s Gay-Rights Record: Patience Vs. Protest
It’s been just under ten months since Barack Obama took the oath of office. So why isn’t America a shiny, lavender-hued Shangri-La where LGBTs serve openly in the military, same sex marriage is the law of the land, AIDS funding has grown to meet actual needs, and heterosexuals erupt in applause as you swish your way down the street?
Some say Obama has turned his back on LGBTs. Some say he cares, but traction on many issues has gone from "Yes we can" to "Yes, we will, but not right now." Some say he’s a savvy, stealthy ally who’s waiting, cat-like, for a second term to pounce on each and every little thing we care about.
Pretty much everyone agrees, though, that the current administration is light years ahead of the tone set during the last eight years of Bush. They’re also asking: Is that enough?
An eclectic group of activists, academics and humorists commented on the current administration’s job performance thus far, gay-wise.
Who Does Live Up to Campaign Rhetoric?
As for whether or not Obama has lived up to the implied commitments or outright promises he made in order to get the lion’s share of the LGBT vote, Professor Gary Bailey of the Simmons College School of Social Work asks, "Does any candidate ever live up to their campaign rhetoric? I’d argue none of them ever do, or they would never get elected to office. This president came into office with more on his plate than any president in recent memory."
Humorist Kate Clinton shares that sentiment, and gives it an appropriate punchline. "President Obama is a thin man with a lot on his plate," she says. "We’re the lima beans. Yet I know from friends working deep within the administration that they are finding infrastructure in disarray from the anti-government hack years of Bush cronies and they are restaffing and rebuilding."
At least, Clinton says, we’re getting our foot in the door these days: "Friends that lobbied for eight years for LGBT funding and could either not get a meeting or got a distracted fifteen minutes, are finding that they are being heard and funded."
But There Have Been Gains
Mara Keisling confirmed that newfound access and acknowledgement Kate Clinton spoke of. The executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality also points to gains made via the recent House vote to include gender expression and identity in federal hate crimes legislatyion.
The Obama administration, Keisling adds, sent "a very high ranking official," acting chairperson Stuart Ishimaru, from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to an ENDA (Employment Non Discrimination Act) hearing earlier in the House earlier this year.