Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Worst President Ever' On GLBT Rights? I Don't Think So

This is a guest post from the ever brilliant Monica of TransGriot.

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"We must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits — not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. "No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability." President Obama during the Byrd-Shepherd Hate Crimes signing ceremony.

The griping has been loud and long even before Sen. Barack Obama took the oath of office in January 2009 from predominately white GLBT people that he would be 'the worst president ever' on GLBT rights.

And Black GLBT people haven't and won't forget y'all were selling those woof tickets before Obama even sat down for his first day in the Oval Office.

White GL pundits, gayosphere bloggers and people in the community two years later are still screaming that bull feces even as the evidence mounts to the contrary.

But then again, Black politicians have always been to impossibly high standards by white people they hypocritically don't hold white politicians to.

That 'worst president on GLBT rights' assertion not only is irritating to African descended GLBT people, it's proving to be ludicrous as far as my section of the LGBT rainbow is concerned. From our vantage point, Obama has been the been president ever when it comes to highlighting the 'T' part of LGBT.

Whether it's passing and signing a hate crimes law that covers gender identity and sexual orientation, one of the legislative Holy Grails for trans people, drafting guidelines barring workplace discrimination against transgender federal employees, or appointing qualified people such as Amanda Simpson for federal positions, President Obama has stepped up for the trans community.

But since y'all been too busy screaming about an 0-34 same gender marriage push and DADT, y'all may have missed the lifting of the decades old HIV travel ban that has kept the United States from hosing international HIV/AIDS conferences, much less kept people with a non American HIV infected partner from being able to emigrate here to live with the person they love.

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Here's the list, compiled by openly gay DNC treasurer Andrew Tobias.

1. Reversed an inexcusable US position by signing the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

2. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees

3. Endorsed the Baldwin-Lieberman bill, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, to provide full partnership benefits to federal employees

4. Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act

5. Lifted the HIV Entry Ban effective January 2010

6. Released the first Presidential PRIDE proclamation since 2000

7. Hosted the first LGBT Pride Month Celebration in White House history

8. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King

9. Appointed the first transgender DNC member (Diego Sanchez) in history

10. Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign service employees

11. Committed to ensuring that HUD’s core housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity

12. Conceived a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders — the nation’s first ever — funded by a three-year HHS grant to SAGE

13. Testified in favour of ENDA, the first time any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA

14. Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation’s history

15. Supported lower taxes for same-sex couples who receive health benefits from employers

16. Hired and appointed a record number of qualified LGBT Americans, including more than 10 Senate-confirmed appointments

17. Sworn in Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa David Huebner

18. Changed the culture of government everywhere from – among others – HUD and HHS to the Export-Import Bank, the State Department, and the Department of Education

19. Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, instead of a conservative who would have tilted the Court even further to the right and virtually doomed our rights for a generation.

To wit (quoting McCain): “I’ve said a thousand times on this campaign trail, I’ve said as often as I can, that I want to find clones of Alito and Roberts. I worked as hard as anybody to get them confirmed. I look you in the eye and tell you I’ve said a thousand times that I wanted Alito and Roberts. I have told anybody who will listen. I flat-out tell you I will have people as close to Roberts and Alito [as possible]”
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The more liberal progressive (and younger) Supreme Court judges we get on the Court now, the better position we'll be in when cases critical to the advancement of GLBT rights percolate up to the SCOTUS.

Do you want a 5-4 conservative majority deciding those cases?

Thought not.

Continue, Andrew.

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20. Named open transgender appointees (the first President ever to do so)

21. Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation’s largest employer)

22. Emphasized LGBT inclusion in everything from the President’s historic NAACP address

(“The pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.”) . . . to the first paragraph of his Family Day proclamation (“Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things”) and his Mothers Day proclamation (“Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by two parents, a single mother, two mothers, a step-mom, a grandmother, or a guardian. Mother’s Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate these extraordinary caretakers”) . . . to creating the chance for an adorable 10-year-old at the White House Easter Egg roll to tell ABC World News how cool it is to have two mommies . . . to including the chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce along with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of Goldman Sachs in the small audience for the President’s economic address at the New York Stock Exchange . . . to welcoming four gay couples to its first State Dinner

23. Recommitted, in a televised address, to passing ENDA . . . repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell . . . repealing the so-called Defence of Marriage Act

24. Spoken out against discrimination at the National Prayer Breakfast

(“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”)

25. Dispatched the Secretary of Defence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call on the Senate to repeal Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell, in the meantime dialling back on discharges.

26. Launched a website to gather public comment on first-ever federal LGBT housing discrimination study.

27. Appointed long-time equality champion Chai Feldblum one of the four Commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

28. Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted, encouraging couples who consider themselves married to file that way, even if their state of residence does not yet permit legal marriage

29. Produced U.S. Census Bureau PSAs featuring gay, lesbian, and transgender spokespersons

30. Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights.

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Crumbs, you say? Can you Obama detractors pull up a comparable list of positive for the TBLG community GW Bush misadministration accomplishments early in the first term of a presidential administration?

I'm betting you predominately white, Hillary-loving GLBT Obama haters can't.

And hello, bear in mind Obama still has to get past the 2010 and 2012 election cycles in addition to cleaning up the toxic waste the Bush administration left behind.

You may want full civil rights and equality now, but my peeps have been fighting that battle for over 200 years. We've had spectacular successes and dark periods of fighting tooth and nail just to avoid any slippage when conservative governments and Supreme Court majorities get ensconced with the task of rolling them back.

From where I sit an an African descended trans person, I'm always in favour of any expansion of civil rights because it benefits me as well.

To you white gay peeps, you don't care what party is is power because as beneficiaries of vanilla flavoured privilege, Republican policies are aimed to benefit your ethnic group even as your civil rights are stagnated or rolled back.

As a person of color I'm painfully aware that Republican governments are detrimental not only to my civil rights, but my wallet and community as well.

So no, voting for Republicans, a disorganized third party or sitting at home on Election Day is NOT an option.

A question for you peeps to ponder. If you were in his shoes facing the same political landscape and a looming 2012 re-election campaign, would you be inclined to risk your entire presidency for a group of people that for the most part, weren't in your corner or reluctant supporters to begin with, and have a history of throwing allies and people of color under the bus?

I'm more than tired along with many African-American GLBT people of hearing that played out 'Obama isn't doing enough for GLBT rights' line. What you mean is that he isn't moving fast enough for you lukewarm supporters satisfaction to advance the cause of GLBT rights.

I also want to see as a proud African-American the first African-American president get two full terms in office, if for no other reason than to flip the Supreme Court script to liberal-progressive control. Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas aren't getting any younger, and neither is Ruth Nader Ginsburg.

So chill with the lie that he's the 'worst president ever' on GLBT rights.