The State of the Union

28 January, 2010 at 11:13 am (Civil Rights, Historical Figure, Politics, President Obama)

Okay, while I would love to write all about this – I actually do need to work. Terrible, right? But I wanted to just mention one thing…

I have become frustrated with how President Obama has handled “the gay issues” (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act). I, along with many, feel he hasn’t done all he could (and should!) for equality. And last night, many felt he should have said more on this issue. His full quote in his speech about DADT:

This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.

No, that’s not a lot. And it’s also not a promise, or him issuing an executive order. However, his saying that he’s going to work to end the repeal – and that he said so in front of a joint session of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Supreme Court Justices – is promising.

But I started thinking… The first time a president ever mentioned advocating for gay rights in a SOTU was President Clinton (the one who signed DADT and DOMA into law, let’s remember), back in 1999. And all he said was:

Discrimination or violence because of race or religion, ancestry or gender, disability or sexual orientation is wrong and it ought to be illegal. Therefore, I ask Congress to make the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land.

Talk about vague, eh? And let’s remember he was on his way out of office; Obama still has three years on this term.

And so it helped to remind myself what President Bush (#43) said about gay equality. Oh, he talked about gay rights during his SOTU – about how there shouldn’t be any. From 2004:

A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.

Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people’s voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

I won’t go into all of Bush’s points – thankfully, he’s out of office and can’t do any more damage. But he certainly did dedicate a large chunk of his speech to that, huh?

So all I am saying is, when we’re frustrated with Obama’s ‘lack of action’, it’s important to remind ourselves where we’re coming from, and what we’re trying to correct from the past. I hope (and trust) that he’ll do more before he leaves office; in the meantime, I am just happy we no longer have a bigoted man in the White House who uses anti-gay rhetoric to ‘motivate the base’.

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2 Comments

  1. Rosella said,

    Well done. I am hopeful that he will make some advance on the issue soon. But I suppose health reform, jobs and economy will probably take priority. However, I think it would be a good idea for him to take the time and risk losing necessary votes on other items to just get it done. Who knows, it may bolster the moral and raise the spirits of some congressional people that he would have more help on other issues. He should just do what is right.

  2. that's Dr. to you bitch... said,

    seems like the blogs become fewer and fewer. Get with it! lol

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