As with all two term Presidents here in the US, Barack Obama, continues to be an incredibly divisive figure. Some demonize him while others build him up. I fall into that second category. There are many reasons I view Obama fondly but perhaps none have been more influential than his decision to finally “come out” in support of LGBT rights. Obama took that message of acceptance and equality on the road this past week when he visited Jamaica. The Advocate has a great article Obama Isn’t Quiet About LGBT Rights, Even in Jamaica Trip.
One of my favorite blogs, OMG Blog, was one of many to share the funny photograph from Obama’s visit to Jamaica. I’ve posted the photo above, with the OMG Blog’s headline, Obama recognizes LGBTQ advocates in Jamaica and then shoots rainbows from his hand. Let’s hope Obama’s words will help reshape the dialog in Jamaica. I would some day like to visit that island but it is one of many destinations I will avoid both for personal safety reasons as well as to boycott because of how they treat their LGBTQ community.
Before Barack Obama became elected President of the United States, President Bill Clinton was often referred to as America’s first Black President.
The 1998 Nobel laureate Toni Morrison is credited with naming Bill Clinton “the first Black President” in part because of his life story and some parallels to stereotyping and double standards many African Americans face. Based on those criteria I believe that Barack Obama is America’s first Gay President.
Conservatives have hated Obama from his first day in office with fanaticism that defies explanation. He’s been accused of not being an American citizen, being Muslim (as if that is a pejorative), and according to Mayor Giuliani and many other prominent Republicans – he hates America. This sort of illogical, blind hatred is something the gay community can relate to. Our very presence by many conservatives is perceived as an abomination and it would be best if we could be either subjected to reparative “conversion” therapy or removed from society.
Barack Obama is the first sitting US President to voice his support for many LGBT issues. While some Presidents have voiced support for LGBT causes after they left office – Obama has done this while in office and that makes all the difference. Was his decision to voice support for same sex marriage politically motivated? Probably, but what matters is his actions not his motivations because his support and his words changed minds and hearts.
In addition to what can only be characterized as an unwavering support for marriage equality since 2012, President Obama has worked to help our community more than any other sitting President and possibly more than any Presidents in the near future. Here are some of his accomplishments:
– Ending the hateful Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act (DADT)
– Ending the legal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
– Extending hate crime legislation to include sexual orientation / gender identity
– Federal government recognition of marriage rights for same sex couples even if they live in states that don’t recognize same sex marriage
– Continued support and funding of Ryan White HIV/AIDS programming
– Expanding coverage of health insurance so insurers cannot deny coverage to someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender
– Taking a stand both with legislation and by making personal “It Gets Better” videos to help prevent bullying and LGBT suicides
While I may disagree with Obama on some things, I will always consider him America’s first gay President. Obama’s unflinching support for the LGBT community has set a standard which all future Presidential nominees (at least in the Democratic Party) will now be found wanting if they don’t measure up.
Apparently I’m one of the few (24% according to Rasmussen’s Presidential Tracking Poll), who strongly approve of President Obama’s performance. My only real ongoing beef with Obama is in the realm of foreign policy – but even that is all relative when I think back to his predecessor’s foreign policy.
I love this clip from The Colbert Report and if you’ve not had a chance to see it perhaps you should. It is not only very savvy of him when you think about the demographic he is reaching but also very self-deprecating; something I appreciate.
Anyone surprised the LGBT community still largely supports President Obama? He remains our single most powerful champion in this fight.
Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Friday that the Department of Justice would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold same-sex marriage rulings from lower courts.
Don’t think elections count? Think again. Can you imagine any Republican President’s administration arguing on behalf of and in defense of LGBT rights?
More on this here.
And that was a game changer. The LGBT community no longer had to justify their intentions to make marriage equality part of the national agenda; not just something to be discussed in a handful of progressive states. Public opinion everywhere shifted (and quickly) within days. More importantly the African American community for the first time united behind the concept that the right to marry is a civil right (Obama’s endorsement unites black and gay communities).
After President Obama shared what was essentially a personal opinion, it changed everything (at least for me). Obama set a standard that all future Presidential nominees will now be found wanting if they don’t support marriage equality. Thank you President Obama (President Obama support for same sex marriage is a game changer).
Don’t believe me? A 2014 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows 59% of voters nationwide support the freedom to marry and 50% or more of Americans in every region of the country support the freedom to marry.
I was going to write an emphatic and emotionally charged post in response to President Obama’s speech about gun control but in the middle of my rant I thought “What is the point?” With more than 90% of Americans wanting background checks for people who purchase fire arms – it is tough to understand why US Senate Republicans have said they will filibuster and prevent a vote to take place. The really sad part of this story is that even if these Senators did allow a vote to take place, I don’t actually believe the US Senate (let alone the US Congress) would pass the legislation – to say I’m depressed is an understatement.
President Obama gave an impassioned speech today in Connecticut in favor of passing legislation that would mandate background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun. If you care about these things, watch the video below.