CIVILesbianIZATION: You Know What To Do - My Agenda for President Obama
Many people took the inauguration occasion to offer advice to President Barack Obama. Often, the advice offered to the President is less mindful of what might actual help President Obama and more rooted in advocacy for a particular set of policies or constituency. It was with that intention that I wanted to write a column about my agenda for President Obama.
First, however, I wanted to see what President-elect Obama had to say about gay and lesbian issues. So I went to the transition team website, change.gov, clicked on agenda and wound up reading the Obama-Biden plan for the GLBT community. I have nothing to add.
If President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are able to achieve the agenda they have outlined, it will be extraordinary for the gay and lesbian community. Even if they only achieve half of their agenda, it will be a cause for great celebration.
What I want to write about instead, since President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden know what to do, is what the gay and lesbian community should do to take advantage of the next four years of the Obama-Biden administration. Collectively, we in the queer community need to think big, visionary ideas for the transformation of our country in relationship to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. We need to imagine a world in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are embraced, celebrated, and central to the life of our nation. We need to envision a world in which homophobia is no longer and where heterosexism ceases to exist. We need a new vision for queer liberation.
Obviously, this vision will not come from President Obama; it must come from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Some of our leaders certainly will say that we need now to be engaged actively with supporting the Obama-Biden administration for them to achieve their plans. Some of our leaders will say that we need to not think beyond the current work before us. This is a mistake.
As I look at the Obama-Biden administration agenda for the LGBT community, I am heartened first at the ways that our ideas - our agenda - for our own equality and participation in American life have been adopted by the administration. I also am saddened by the limitations of our agenda. There are eight items on the Obama-Biden agenda. Two pertain to HIV/AIDS, one is about hate crimes, one about workplace discrimination, one about civil unions and "federal rights," one about preventing constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, one to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," and one about adoption rights. This, I think you will agree is an extraordinary agenda.
There are innumerable things missing however, and it is here where we need to focus. We need to think more broadly about our movement and our own agenda. We cannot accept this list, extraordinary through one lens and paltry with another, as a definition of success.
Yes, some people need to support the Obama-Biden administration and LBGT organizations working to achieve this agenda, but we also need to think larger and talk and organize in larger ways. We need to talk about our queer lives as a model for thinking about sexuality in the contemporary world. We need to talk about our lives as a way to understand the risks and benefits that American people - all American people, but GLBT people in particular - are facing in the current economic climate.
This is my agenda, not for President Obama- he knows what to do- but for the LGBT community. While we’re holding the Obama-Biden administration accountable and working with him to achieve their agenda, we need to envision something much more sweeping and much more revolutionary. We need to think about what we want beyond an end to discrimination, military service, and marriage as well as about what we can give as open, valued people in our society. Ultimately, this will make President Obama’s agenda easier to achieve and will give the TBGL communities a new vision of hope and a new dream for change.