Tag Archives: Obama

Standing on the Side of Justice

3 May

Today, we pause.

In the past, I haven’t been the shyest when it comes to criticizing our elected officials. That’s because I believe in big government. I believe in its ability to be a force for good. I believe in protecting rights and extending a compassionate hand to those in need. When our government fails to live up to its potential, I think it’s our duty to call them out and keep them honest.

For you, it may be fair trade. Or reforming our jail system. For me, it’s the basic creed of our Declaration of Independence that has yet to be realized. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.

I’m critical because I believe in the greatness of America, and I will try to do my part to direct your attention where inequality exists. That has been my goal this semester and for this blog assignment, and it’s for that reason that I will continue this blog after the assignment ends.

But there are those days when you do see your government live up to its promise, when they make the tough decisions. And you’re proud. Proud to live in a country like America. You don’t have to revel in the death of another, but it’s okay to feel a sense of relief and catharsis. Okay to feel that a man who was far more evil than good, who murdered thousands of innocent men, women, and children, will never harm anyone again.

Justice has been served. Today, we’re reminded that government serves a very real and very important purpose.

Tomorrow is a new day, but let’s enjoy this one while it lasts.

“All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.” – Clarence Darrow

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Dear World, It’s okay to be gay. Sincerely, America

25 Mar

The Obama administration this week took a significant step in becoming a global leader on gay rights.

Joining 85 countries, the U.S. condemned discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe urged the UN and other states to take action. “Human rights are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who they are or who they love,” Donahoe said. “The U.S. government is firmly committed to supporting the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to lead productive and dignified lives, free from fear and violence.”

By defining sexual orientation as a basic human right, the Obama administration has once again placed America in an important leadership position. Last week, while on a tour of South America, President Obama announced the creation of a government position to help monitor gay rights in the West.

Predictably, Obama’s continued historic push towards equality has not gone unnoticed by those on the other side. “While American forces bomb away at Libya, the Obama administration is launching another global offensive: Operation International Tolerance,” the Family Research Council said in a statement.

There’s that “tolerant” word again. Am I missing something? Why is this such a bad word?

According to the Family Research Council, countries should have the right to discriminate against gays. And of course, why not? “Our global neighbors have the freedom to believe that homosexuality is wrong – just as they have the freedom to legislate against any behavior they think is harmful to society. That freedom – and their very sovereignty – would be threatened by this effort.”

I suppose in their world, that whole ‘you can’t legislate morality’ is another assault on their fickle freedoms?

In the meantime, we count ourselves as fortunate to have a President who says, ‘Hey world, it’s okay to be gay.’

More and More Support Equality

18 Mar

Spring is in the air! The grass is getting greener, the birds are chirping, trees are coming back to life and flowers are blooming! There’s something else in the air, too. Something new. What is that?

Oh yeah, it’s the majority of Americans who now support marriage equality.

For the first time in a decade of polling by ABC News and The Washington Post, 53% of Americans today support same-sex marriage. That’s up from 32% in 2004, and represents a noteworthy milestone in the struggle for equality.

Matt Yglesias from Think Progress observes:

“People under 40 are for equality, those over 50 are generally against, with the fortysomething’s closely aligned. As I said yesterday, this is one of the issues the right will have to moderate on to improve its disastrous standing with younger voters. But I think the main practical impact here is that now any federal judges with pro-equality convictions can rest assured that pro-equality decisions will be acceptable to public opinion and not lead you to get immediately abandoned by every elected official in sight. And by 2016, the kind of equivocation on the subject that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton engaged in will clearly be unacceptable to an equality-minded Democratic primary electorate.”

This news comes after word that some top Democrats have been whispering in Obama’s ear that the GOP may be ready to support increased gay rights.

Following a successful rejection of DADT last December, Democrats earlier this week stepped up their efforts to repeal DOMA with the Respect for Marriage Act. Though passage is unlikely, as more and more Americans come to oppose DOMA and support equality, the political cost for supporting the LGBT community now appears substantially less hostile.

Additionally, Barbara Boxer and Anthony Weiner have introduced the Equal Access to COBRA Act in their respective chambers, which if successful would provide more government benefits for same-sex partners. “All of our families deserve equal access to health insurance. This bill would help ensure that domestic partners and their families will be able to keep their health coverage if their partner loses their job,” Boxer said.

As more and more lawmakers begin listening to the voices of the American people, many are attempting to re-frame the gay marriage argument to spark new conversations and broaden support:

“Gay and lesbian couples may seem different from straight couples, but we all share similar values — like the importance of family and helping out our neighbors; worries — like making ends meet or the possibility of losing a job; and hopes and dreams — like finding that special someone to grow old with, and standing in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment.”

Gone are the days when gay men and women were ignored and brushed aside. More Americans than ever before are behind us, and with this historic moment in time comes greater responsibility. Now, more than ever, we must remain organized and focused with our sights set on an America that recognizes its gay population not as a minority subculture, but as equals.

Is the Generational Divide Growing or Narrowing?

15 Mar

James Richardson, who served as the Republican National Committee’s online communication manager during the 2008 election cycle, has a new job to add to his growing resume. Mississippi Governor and likely-presidential candidate Haley Barbour has recruited Richardson to serve as a communications advisor for his Political Action Committee.

Richardson, who has blogged for the right-leaning Red State blog and whose influence inside GOP has been well-regarded, is also a new-breed a political activists who tout the much-talked about generational divide in regards to gay rights.

Richardson once wrote an article on his blog titled ‘Two Daddies?”, a post in defense of gay adoption and marriage that has since been removed by Richards following his recent employment with Barbour but can still be found using Google’s Cache Pages. In it, Richardson asks, “Is the fight to preserve the traditional American family one to, as its proponents maintain, protect children, or is it means by which to silence the “radical gay agenda” in the United States through institutionalized shame?” He goes on to write,

“My support for gay adoption will surely be met with hostility and, no doubt, charges of party defection by many of my colleagues, but the Republican Party is at a defining crossroads. Now is not the time for an echo chamber. And homosexual demagoguery is not the answer to the Party’s woes, particularly when gay men and women represent the only demographic in which John McCain bested President Bush (27% to 19% based on exit polling).

…gay-hostile rhetoric no longer resonates in suburban areas with soccer moms, many of whom have gay friends or family members, and plays even worse with young voters, 61% of whom voted against stripping gay couples of the right to marry.

To my dissenters, let me be clear: I am not advocating a liberal brand of judicial activism. I maintain that judicial resolution to these matters, adoption and marriage in particularly, typically leads to protracted and bitter legal battles, but, what is perhaps equally as distressing is our collective failure as a Party and movement to hold a candid discussion on the emerging role of gays in society at large – not as outcastes, but as equals.”

This kind of conversation isn’t particularly new or alarming. Even younger conservatives are more open to expanding gay rights than their older counterparts, yet it’s this very growing demographic that continues to work for a close-minded generation staunchly opposed to gay rights. Top campaign advisors for John McCain and George W. Bush have gone on the record to support equality only after leaving their posts, encouraging their party to become more open and accepting. But for an older generation that continues to be stuck in the past, their primary concern appears to be related more towards leaving behind a legacy of bigotry rather than becoming part of a growing, inevitable trend.

A similar paradigm shift exists on the left, as President Obama continues to feel growing pressure from within his own party and staff to endorse marriage equality, an issue that Obama has flirted with but has yet to throw his support behind.

“I’d like to see the president and Attorney General Holder announce that they will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act and to agree with the judge’s findings in the Massachusetts court case,” said Steve Hildebrand, who served openly as Obama’s deputy campaign chairmen during the election. He made these remarks in July 2010 during an interview with The Advocate following an LGBT event where he publicly urged attendees, “Don’t hate Obama.”

“This is a guy who isn’t going to do things exactly the way you want him to do, but know that his heart is in the right place. He has his priorities, they’re in line with our priorities and he’s going to do them at his pace.

That at the end of this four-year period, and ideally an additional four years, I don’t think the gay community will be disappointed with the progress that we made under this president.

I think it’s very important that we keep pressure on the president, the White House, and the Administration, and on elected officials across the spectrum but to understand that President Obama is an incredibly important and good friend to the gay community in this country. He’s not our enemy, we shouldn’t treat him as if he were; we should keep our on eyes on who our real enemies are.”

As for the GOP, James Richardson sums up his message with this cautious warning: “Times are changing, and if the GOP isn’t willing to change with them, they can at least have a discussion on the matter. Silence is not golden.”

Sources:
For Younger Class Of Political Operatives, Gay Rights Issues Often Pit Them Against Their Candidates
Two Daddies?
Hildebrand to Obama: Don’t Defend DOMA

GOP: The Party of Wasteful Spending

10 Mar

Seeing how concerned the GOP has been in recent months about “reigning in spending”, “reducing the size of government”, and “putting Americans back to work”, it should come to the surprise of nobody that House Republicans will now divert precious time and resources to defend a currently defenseless DOMA.

President Obama and the Department of Justice last week determined that the Defense of Marriage Act was “unconstitutional”. Speaker Boehner on Wednesday said, “this action by the House will ensure that this law’s constitutionality is decided by the courts, rather than by the president unilaterally.”

That’s right, your tax dollars will now be used to help ensure your continued status as a second-class citizen. Cheers!

Why should we expect anything less? Republicans who proudly wave the banner of “small government” are more than willing to champion big government so long as it helps proscribe your behavior in the bedroom.

So, where are your tax dollars going? As House leadership continues to slash federal funding for public institutions such as NPR, Planned Parenthood, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the GOP is more than happy to throw your well-earned money toward reactionary political theater.

Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

Source:
House GOP moves to defend DOMA

Obama: DOMA is Unconstitutional

23 Feb

Following the institutional discrimination that Congress enacted under the Clinton administration in the 1990s, George W. Bush landed a consecutive and debilitating blow against the LGBT community during his 8 long, painful years in office, halting any hopes of progress and equality.

Barack Obama, whose campaign cornered the ‘change’ market, offered a ray of hope. Despite Obama’s “evolving” stance on gay marriage and accusations that he has dragged his feet in regards to a community who helped elect him President, real progress has been made. It may not have happened overnight, and there have been plenty of roadblocks along the way. Yet the momentum has irreversibly shifted. Under Obama, hospital visitation rights have been extended to same sex couples, his administration has appointed a record number of LGBT White House staffers, and in December, against all odds and in the eleventh hour, the Senate finally repealed the appalling Don’t Ask Don’t Tell legislation. The media blitz that resulted from this momentous occasion was followed by a celebratory signing ceremony, where an emotional Obama noted, “this is a good day.” He went on to praise the LGBT community, saying “it is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed.”

Though further LGBT progress was left in doubt after Republicans took control of the House in November elections, President Obama and his administration today said they will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act banning the federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Department of Justice has defended the legislation during its 15-year lifespan, wrote in a letter to Speaker Boehner that “after careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional… I concur in this determination.”

Holder goes on to say, “while sexual orientation carries no visible badge, a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable… it is undoubtedly unfair to require sexual orientation to be hidden from view to avoid discrimination.

Finally, there is a growing acknowledgment that sexual orientation “bears no relation to ability to perform or contribute to society. Recent evolutions in legislation… and in social science regarding sexual orientation all make clear that sexual orientation is not a characteristic that generally bears on legitimate policy objectives.”

The Defense of Marriage Act will remain law “unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality… This is the rare case where the proper course is to forgo the defense of this statute.

…The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional.”

The law has lost its biggest defender in court, and the clock is ticking. This is a historic shift, and it now stands as the most profound gay rights victory under the Obama administration. By deeming the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, the President of the United States has laid the groundwork for all discrimination based on sexual orientation to one day fall (sooner rather than later, we hope).

“Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is a good day.

Read Eric Holder’s full letter here.

Related articles:
Fighting Prop 8: Lawyers Ask Court To Lift Stay On Gay Marriage Ban
Gay Rights Advocates Celebrate Obama’s DOMA Turnaround
Obama makes historic shift on gay rights