Friday, June 24, 2011

Has Obama Done Enough For Gay Rights?

In this video, Cenk Uygur looks at the question of whether President Obama has “done enough” for GLBT people. It’s a stupid question.

Let me be clear: President Obama is dead wrong on marriage equality: Civil unions are not a substitute for real marriage. It’s time for the president to stop “evolving” and get there and support full equality for GLBT people.

However, Dan Choi is also wrong, possibly because he doesn’t know history. As Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign says, this president has done more than any other president for GLBT equality than any other president in history.

President Bill Clinton told GLBT people, “I have a vision of America, and you’re part of it.” What we got was Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. To this day, some gay people still sing the praises of Bill Clinton.

President Obama promised to be a “fierce advocate” for GLBT Americans, and what we got was enactment of gay-inclusive hate crimes legislation, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (incomplete), the decision to refuse to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and countless appointments of gay people to positions within the government—including the Ambassador to New Zealand. And despite all that, Barack Obama is constantly attacked by GLBT activists.

Why? Why should Bill Clinton—who left GLBT Americans worse off than when he took office—be thought of so fondly, and Barack Obama—who has achieved more than Clinton ever did—be called a failure, a bigot, a homophobe? I truly don’t understand.

I think that part of it is that “conventional wisdom” takes on a life of its own, even when it’s dead wrong. So, activists and pundits say Obama hasn’t delivered anything for GLBT people and that becomes the truth—real truth notwithstanding.

President Obama is definitely not perfect, but that’s true generally, not just on GLBT issues. I always ask his GLBT critics the one question they can never answer: Name even one of the Republican candidates who would be even half as good. It’s simply not possible. The choice will be between President Obama and an openly, probably proudly, anti-gay Republican. I know who will get my vote, and there won't be any elephants around.

To answer Cenk's question: Until we are fully equal, NO president can do enough.

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