You have to be hiding under a rock to not be aware that this week, President Barack Obama announced officially that he supports the idea that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. And if you’ve missed the shit-storm of controversy that followed his announcement, you’ve probably pulled that rock completely over your head.
It’s no big secret that Obama has been a quiet, steady advocate of the LGBT community since taking office in 2009. His list of accomplishments in that arena are substantial and impressive:
- Ordered the government to extend key benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees (2009)
- Hosted the first White House LGBT Pride reception (2009)
- Banned discrimination in federal workplaces based on gender identity (2010)
- Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law (2010)
- Clarified the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to ensure family leave for LGBT employees (2010)
- Allowed transgender Americans to receive true gender passports without surgery (2010)
- Led a United Nations measure to restore “sexual orientation” to the definition of human rights (2010)
- Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” allowing LGBT Americans to serve openly in the military (2010)
- Announced his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in courts (2011)
- Completed an Institute of Medicine study on LGBT health, the first of its kind (2011)
- Clarified the meaning of “family” to include LGBT relationships, helping to protect bi-national families threatened by deportation (2011)
- Permitted military chaplains to officiate same-sex marriages where legal (2011)
- In his presidential proclamation of National Adoption Month, called for equal treatment for same-sex adoptive parents (2011)
- Announced HUD’s new rule protecting against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (2012)
- Announced White House LGBT Conference Series to address issues affecting LGBT Americans, including health, housing, and safety (2012)
- Ensured transgender veterans receive respectful care according to their true gender through the Veterans Health Administration (2012)
- Came out against North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would prohibit same-sex marriage in the state (2012)
And this isn’t even close to the complete list.
Let me tell you something about me and Barack Obama. I didn’t support him in the 2008 Democratic primaries. I was a Hillary Gal all the way (I still am a strong supporter of Secretary of State Clinton). I thought she was strong, smart, and powerfully positioned to lead the nation. While I respected Obama and thought he was quite intelligent, I felt he lacked the experience necessary to do the job.
When Hillary lost the nomination, I was heart-broken, but I knew I had to throw my support behind Obama. Honestly, there was no other choice. I was wary, but determined that he was far superior to the other options – voting for the McCain/Palin train wreck or (worse) not voting at all.
In the three years since Obama has taken office, I’ve had to eat my words a bit with many of my friends who supported him from the start. His administration has been one of reason, good sense, increasing prosperity, and radical positive change. He took a country at the brink of utter economic collapse and set back on the right path. He made being smart cool again (an idea that had critically declined in popularity under his predecessor’s watchful eye). And, without fanfare or hoopla, he just kept doing the right thing for all of us, including LGBT Americans.
How Can You Tell the Character of a Man?
A dear friend of mine, Chris Dickenson (one of the Obama-from-the-Start crowd), used to say, “You can get a really good idea of a man’s character by looking at the people who hate him.” Over the past year, we’ve had ample opportunity to see the character of Obama’s haters, from the has-been rocker who ranted publicly against Obama and Hillary Clinton while stumping for Mitt Romney to the billionaire Koch brothers who see America as something to be bought and sold for profit.
Yeah—okay, so he has some icky enemies. But the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is just another sort of asshole.
So why have I come around? I never drank the Kool-Aid. I was an Obama skeptic from the beginning.
But I’m also aware. I’ve made a point of keeping an eye on the political scene (something taught to me by the Harvard C-ster, Dub Bush). And I’ve been impressed. I’ve been impressed and reassured and absolutely in awe of the Mr. Obama’s composure and focus. It was no ad campaign or Facebook page that turned me into an Obama supporter. It was Barack Obama himself.
Don’t Let Me Tell You How to Vote
There is absolutely no way I’m going to end this blog post by telling you to vote for or financially support Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. No, I’m going to do something even better. I’m going to challenge you.
If you’re an Obama supporter, don’t just blindly support him. Educate yourself. Look at his record, read his speeches, check his policy. The president is a charming man, and the Obamas are a beautiful family. Don’t equate charm and beauty with good and wise. Do your homework. Know your facts. And when detractors show up at your doorstep, don’t defend him by saying he’s a good guy. Have the facts as your ammunition.
If you’re on the other side, I ask you to do the same thing. Really do the same thing—look at his record, read his speeches, check his policy. Then look at the people who are telling you that Obama is no good for this country. Look at their records, read their speeches, check their policies. Have these people done you a bit of good? Are these people out to make your life better? Do these people, when the camera is off, actually live the values that you support?
It’s not enough to vote Democrat or Republican (or Ron Paul) blindly any more. The world is in a critical state. You no longer have the luxury of ignorance. You no longer have the luxury of being sheep. You must educate yourself, and you must make a stand, one way or another.
If, after you do your research, you decide that four more years of Barack Obama’s administration is the way to go, why not contribute a little green to helping him get there?
And if, after you do your research, you still want to vote for the other guys? Well, you can find your own links. 😀