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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What to Do?

3 November, 2009 at 11:37 am (Books, Historical Figure, Politics, President Obama)

So it’s a Tuesday afternoon, and three things are happening tonight in the city. Well, technically there are more than three things happening – but these would be on my list:

1. Cast of Glee signing copies of the new Glee Soundtrack at Borders in Columbus Circle

2. Jen Somethingorother, who does the Cake Wrecks blog, signing copies of her Cake Wrecks book at the Barnes & Noble in Lincoln Triangle. I don’t really want a copy of the book, but this book signing has free cake…

3. David Plouffe speaking about and signing copies of his new book The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory at the B&N at Union Square.

So which one am I going with? Obviously the Plouffe reading/signing. I’ve been looking forward to this book anyway – regardless of what happens with his Presidency, Obama’s campaign and win were game-changing and historic, and I think reading Plouffe’s inside take will be interesting. However, it’s also gotten good reviews – and Arianna Huffington at HuffPo had a great take on it this morning: What would Candidate Obama think of President Obama? What indeed. I really recommend reading the piece – and I think that the book will serve as a great reminder of why we all got on board with Obama to begin with – and what he could be doing differently in his presidency.

But I’ll let you know after I’m finished reading it 🙂

UPDATE: David Plouffe responds on HuffPo: “No Difference Between President Obama and Candidate Obama

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Obama and “The Gays”

6 August, 2009 at 5:04 pm (Civil Rights, President Obama, SuperGay)

My friend Austin shared a commentary written by Dan Savage in this month’s Advocate, and I wanted to share it here. In it, he talks about why the Gay and Lesbian (or LGBTQAMSNOVP) community supported Obama…

Remember when he practically spooned Melissa Etheridge during the Logo–Human Rights Campaign debate? Remember when he positioned himself to the left of Hillary Clinton on the Defense of Marriage Act? While Clinton came out in favor of a partial repeal, Obama said he favored — and would fight for — a complete repeal, and described DOMA as “abhorrent.”

That was pretty sweet.

Then there was Barack Obama’s open letter to the gay community. “Equality is a moral imperative,” candidate Obama wrote, before reiterating his promise to repeal DOMA. He also promised to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” to pressure Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard hate-crimes act, and to lift the HIV travel ban. And then this line in particular jumped out at me, as it must have for other gay parents: “As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.”

…and why he is now making us angry:

…his Department of Justice chose to celebrate the beginning of Gay Pride Month by defending DOMA, leaning on every bigoted argument against marriage equality that Pat Robertson ever advanced.

and

Take “don’t ask, don’t tell.” During the campaign Obama promised to “end” the ban on gays in the military, but now he talks about “changing” it. Apparently, the president hopes to find some middle ground, a “bipartisan solution,” some compromise that pleases both advocates of gay equality and raving antigay bigots. Someone needs to tell the president that “don’t ask, don’t tell,” crafted in 1993 by the Clinton administration, was the split-the-difference middle ground, it was the “bipartisan” compromise, and it’s proved to be as unworkable as it is unjust.

The way Obama has “dealt” with gays and lesbians (and their allies) sucks. Really, really sucks. And so I’m torn…I’m mad – really mad – at Obama, but not in the way the angry conservatives (and irrational bigots) are. My anger could be mollified. Outside of the gay & lesbian issue, I have no problems with Obama…but the thing is, the gay & lesbian issue IS my issue. We all have that one “thing” that we’re most passionate about, and civil rights is mine. Gays & Lesbians deserve equal rights – period. Obama isn’t delivering – period.

The worst part is, if he’s not, who would? Clinton promised us less, and it was her husband’s administration who created a lot of the anti-gay laws (DOMA and DADT) that we’re trying to repeal today. And a Republican? McCain or anyone else? Forgetaboutit. As angry as I am at Obama, I have to remind myself that it could be worse; lest we forget, Bush and the Republicans ran their 2004 campaign on passing an amendment to the constitution that would have stripped gays and lesbians of equal rights. So things aren’t as bad, comparatively…

I haven’t given up hope on Obama, I think just because I can’t – it’s too awful. And outside of that stupid DOJ briefing (I will never, ever understand the rationale for that Bush-era p.o.s.), I can’t say it’s not completely unexpected. (though you have to wonder why they can’t repeal DADT at least, something most people support, and something that everyone in the country would benefit from). The worst thing, to me, is that a person who campaigned as being strong for equal rights; a person that was able to be elected while being strong for equal rights, STILL ISN’T DELIVERING. So there’s the sense of hopelessness – we’re a small minority group, and they know they “have” us. “Things would be worse under Republicans (or at least they would going by the rule of the last 15+ years)”, Dems think, “so why would gays and lesbians change their loyalty?”. And the sick thing is, it’s true; things could be worse. And I know eventually change will come, as progress can’t be stopped; no amount of right-wing, fundie hatred will put gays and lesbians back in the closet. But when? And how can we make this happen? Because voting for the man that was for us sure didn’t do the job.

Anyway, read Dan Savage’s article – he’s a better writer than I.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. President

4 August, 2009 at 2:07 pm (President Obama)

…wherever you’re from

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Bill Maher on Obama

16 June, 2009 at 9:54 pm (Politics, President Obama)

Alright, Bill Maher can be a bit of a blowhard sometimes, and I definitely don’t always agree with him. However, his criticisms of Obama are pretty spot-on:

…and he didn’t even get into the issues of DOMA and DADT.

Criticisms come for Obama come from Republicans, but I think it means a lot more when Democrats are critical of what he is (or isn’t!) doing in office. We hired him to do a job; it is up to us to ensure that he gets it done.

(Desi: thanks for the clip!)

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Proclamations Are Great and All…

1 June, 2009 at 7:18 pm (Civil Rights, Politics, President Obama, SuperGay)

…but actions speak louder than words, Mr. President. From the proclamation:

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.

Look, we all know I love President Obama, and am (overall) just fine with the job he’s done thus far. And I know that these things take time, and that he needs to spend political capital wisely. BUT – enough with the rhetoric, President Obama. You know who can actually end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? YOU. I understand waiting to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act – let the states gradually come around to give us equal rights before changing the federal law that President Clinton so erroneously signed into existence. But DADT (another anti-gay law given to us by President Clinton)? We’re in so many wars (excuse me, “military actions”) right now, I hardly think it would be all that unpopular to give our military MORE people who are willing and able to serve.

So thanks for the kind words of support, Mr. President. Now can we have some action to go along with it?

(And spread the word – March On Washington October 10 and 11th! Sign up for updates, and join me there! Because, unless the federal laws change in the next four months, you bet I will be there!)

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The Queen and The First Lady

2 April, 2009 at 9:32 pm (Funny Stuff, Historical Figure, Michelle Obama, President Obama, The British Are Coming!)

Okay, so here’s the deal. Anyone that knows me well, or who has known me since my high school days (i.e., 90% of the people taking the time to read this), knows that I am a total anglophile. Before I was obsessed with our current head of state, I was all about Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith. So how do you think I felt when I saw this?
obamasroyals
Well, thrilled, of course! (though who knew Prince Philip was such a tiny man?)
But then…Huggate happened:
michellequeenhug
The hug felt ’round the world.
So for those of you who aren’t all up on Royal Protocol…well, this ain’t it. One does not touch the Queen! But The Queen remarked on how tall Mrs. Obama is, and put her hand on Michelle’s back…the First Lady responded in kind, rubbing the Queen’s back…and, well – the rest is history:
michellequeenhug2
Apparently, the Queen even reportedly asking Michelle Obama, “Now we’ve met, will you please keep in touch?” Too cute!
Yes, to we Americans, this is hardly a blip on the radar. But to the British, this is Big News. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s getting more coverage than the G-20 Protests! (Protests are a dime a dozen in London, but getting touchy-feely with Her Majesty? Not so much!)

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As promised…

27 February, 2009 at 1:52 pm (President Obama)

Combat in Iraq will come to a close by August, 2010.

Not within the 16 month timeline – but great news, nonetheless.

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Bobby Jindal = Kenneth the Page

25 February, 2009 at 1:21 pm (Funny Stuff, Politics, President Obama, This Can't Be Good)

Okay, I’m a busy girl at work today and so I haven’t yet blogged about Obama’s speech to the joint session of Congress last night. I honestly don’t know that I will…so quickly, I will say that I thought it was fantastic (big surprise there), and was impressed at the number of Democrats and Republicans that applauded during the speech (these things are usually more party-centric, or so I’m told; I haven’t been able to sit through one since around 2001. Not because I refuse to listen to Repubicans – but I couldn’t STAND to watch G.W. talk. That smirky, shit-eating grin! But I digress…)

Last night, the GOP response was given by Bobby Jindal. Now, I don’t know much about Bobby Jindal, other than he is the governor of Louisiana and has had his name thrown around as a possible candidate in 2012. But last night? Definitely not the best response ever. Perhaps it wasn’t a true reflection of himself or his typical style… but yeah, not great. But what I didn’t even pick up on, until it was pointed out today at HuffPo, is how much he sounds like Kenneth the Page (from the show 30 Rock). Check it out for yourself!

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Obama’s First Weekly Address

24 January, 2009 at 12:45 pm (Politics, President Obama)

President Obama is going to make weekly addresses to the nation, just like other presidents have done…except he realizes that it is now the 21st century, and we have things called “cameras” and “computer monitors”. So, instead of just the weekly radio address, he’ll be taping his speech and posting it on YouTube. I’ll probably re-post them each week, though you could certainly view them at whitehouse.gov.

And just a note – my posts have all been Obamacentric lately, but it’s been a pretty Obamariffic week! I’m sure in the next day or two, I’ll post something that’s not Obama…but there will still be posts about this new administration, to be sure. I haven’t even posted my “wow-he’s-already-done-these-things-that-make-me-happy-his-first-week-in” post; that’ll come soon enough.

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