The gay community’s future is at stake and we need a leader who is going to accept it and protect it.
Barack Obama is that leader.
Four years ago, Obama made a lot of promises to the gay community. And while his record isn’t perfect on LGBT rights, it’s pretty damn close.
The president repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, signed into law a federal hate crimes prevention act protecting LGBT people, ensured hospital visitation rights of LGBT patients, banned discrimination in federal workplaces based on gender identity, and lifted the ban that prohibited people with HIV/AIDS from entering the U.S.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Sometimes, though, words and actions are more meaningful than actual bills.
The president recorded an “It Gets Better” video to support LGBT youth experiencing bullying; endorsed the repeal of DOMA; awarded the highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, to Billie Jean King and Harvey Milk; and supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This past June the Pentagon took an extraordinary step by celebrating Pride Month for the first time.
And then this past May Obama finally came to publicly support gay marriage. That pronouncement alone will go far to start changing the hearts and minds of others. Imagine what kind of message this sends to the entire world, that the leader of the free world supports gay marriage.
Some say, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
While the economy is important, there’s a lot more at stake for the LGBT community than just that.
Since we’re an LGBT paper, our focus is on LGBT issues. We’re not experts on the economy, so we can’t discuss the complex economic issues facing the country. However, we will point out the economy is recovering, albeit slowly. Remember Obama inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression. It took more than a decade for the U.S. to recover from that economic crisis. And even in 1940, 11 years after the stock market crash of 1929, the unemployment rate was 15 percent. Looking back shows us that four years isn’t a long time.
But let’s take a closer look at the economy in regards to the gay community. Obama repealed DADT, opening up numerous opportunities for LGBT people, while at the same time protecting gay and lesbians already serving our nation. Furthermore, Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which if passed, would protect the jobs of millions of LGBTs.
And then there’s marriage. If LGBT people had the right to marry, there are clear economic benefits ranging from taxes to inheritance.
There are two ways the LGBT community will achieve rights: Legislatively, and through the Supreme Court. It’s likely that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who’s almost 80-years-old, will retire in the next fours years. If Mitt Romney wins, there’s no doubt he will attempt to appoint someone in the vein of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia, likely setting back gay rights for years to come. Right now there are several important cases making their way to the Supreme Court, so the gay community cannot take a chance on Mitt Romney.
The moderate from Massachusetts is long gone. This new Mitt Romney is a right wing fanatic when it comes to social issues. Instead of taking a softer, gentler stance on gay marriage, he’s taken the furthest right stance there is. Not only is he against gay marriage, he’s also against civil unions. A poll from May of this year showed that 62 percent of American’s favor some sort of legal recognition for gay couples. Within the Republican Party, 46 percent are in favor and 49 percent are opposed. He’s clearly out of the mainstream and on the wrong side of history on this issue.
But Romney takes his stance even further to the right. He supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, while his website states he will “also champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”
This is a man who will go above and beyond to deny civil rights to the LGBT community. But his hostility to the gay community doesn’t stop at marriage.
Romney was against the repeal of DADT, is against ENDA and a whole range of other pro-equality measures. Recently he’s said that hospital visitation rights should be left up to each state. Obama has already federally given us that right. Would Romney take that away?
Obama has made numerous attempts to showcase his record on LGBT rights and reach out to the gay community. He has an entire website section (http://www.barackobama.com/lgbt) devoted to our community. This is a man who cares about our vote and who has gone above and beyond to make sure we count.
Some LGBT organizations like the Log Cabin Republican’s gloss over Romney’s hostility toward the gay community. But at least they acknowledge this much: “If LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Gov. Romney may not be that voter's choice.”
However, they are wrong when they say, “Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann.” Romney may not make outrageous statements regarding gays and lesbians but his policies are exactly the same as Santorum and Bachmann.
Frankly, the LCR’s position makes no sense. Later in the endorsement, they state: “While many of our members will also be working hard on behalf of Governor Romney, growing the pro-equality Republican presence in the House and Senate is our highest electoral priority this year.”
So they want to elect an anti-equality president while at the same time putting in place pro-equality senators and representatives. And then they take their contradictory statement even further saying, “While even the suggestion of enshrining discrimination in our nation's most precious document is deeply offensive, there is a significant difference between a valid threat and an empty promise made to a vocal but shrinking constituency.” If they’re suggesting that the gays and lesbians should not trust Romney on this issue, then how can he be trusted on any issue?
The point we’re making is that for any LGBT person to support Romney, he or she has to either completely ignore his stance on equality, or justify it with nonsensical rationalizations as the Log Cabin Republicans do.
Now these group of gay republicans tell the rest of the community to sit back and wait for our rights to be handed to us by a court, or when the economy improves, or the threat of terrorism is no longer. But there will always be another issue out there more important than equality to these folks. That’s why we cannot wait. Now is the time. Imagine if the black community had decided to wait to fight for their rights until the threat of communism had subsided.
Martin Luther King Jr. summed it up best:
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well-timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’”
Justice for the LGBT community is long overdue and that’s why we must re-elect President Barack Obama.