In all the flurry of news yesterday I didn’t get a chance to post my analysis of President Obama’s first 100 days in office. In general, I’m pleased with President Obama. He seems to be making decisions that I can generally stand behind, with a few glaring exceptions like vowing not to prosecute people who tortured prisoners on the government’s dime.
But when it comes to President Obama’s commitment to the LGBT community, there wasn’t much to talk about. After the Rick Warren debacle, we really needed to see some proof of the “fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans” the President claims to be. And other than signing a UN resolution that has no legal ramifications (which I applaud) and using the word “homophobia” a couple times in laundry lists of prejudices there wasn’t a lot of substantive change coming from the White House. He even went in reverse as far as DADT is concerned, with White House spokespeople going from “Yes without a doubt we’re going to repeal it” to “That might not happen for a few years” to “If it happens at all…”
Then Tuesday night, President Obama released a statement right under the wire encouraging both houses of congress to pass this year’s version of the Matthew Shepard Act. It was a nice gesture. The President’s statement is presented below in its entirety.
This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance â€“ legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association. I also urge the Senate to work with my Administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action.
That’s it. That’s the entire statement. Three sentences. Eight-nine words. The night before the House was scheduled to vote, after even the Religious Right had already conceded that it would probably pass.
So on LGBT issues, I would have given President Obama a D yesterday. (I was in a generous mood.)
Then today, Joe.My.God made the stunning discovery. In the very recent past, someone in the Obama administration has made a major change to the White House’s official website. What had been a detailed list of commitments to the LGBT community has been reduced to two sentences.
President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a screengrab of the page from Google’s cache, and here’s one of the new page. You’ll notice that several items are missing in the new text. Gone is any mention of repealing DADT. Adoption rights are conspicuously absent. AIDS prevention has disappeared altogether. Tuesday’s statement notwithstanding, there’s no commitment on the page about support for hate crimes legislation. There’s still clumsy language to get around supporting marriage equality.
As I see it, there are two possibilities here. Either some lower-level staffer made a bad decision or President Obama isn’t the “fierce advocate” that he’s claimed to be.
To tell you the truth, I’m inclined to believe the latter. We’re a fairly small percentage of the population, and unless the wheels are already in motion (as in hate crime legislation) and people are already behind the issue, what’s the political reason to stick his nose out for us? What could possibly be gained from standing up for Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual, and gay Americans?
Other than justice, I mean.
Mr. President, I’m disappointed that you’ve decided your LGBT constituents are expendable. I’m frustrated that it looks like you’ve stolen back the commitment you made before the vast majority of our community voted for you.
I hope I’m wrong on this, but assuming this wasn’t some clerical error or something, I don’t see any other way to figure it.