In five weeks, the nation will begin to pass judgment on the first year of the Obama administration. And with that, many LGBT pundits will give their views. In order to review fairly, we should look at what the administration has done in the area of LGBT issues. Our community seems to be myopic, only seeing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” marriage state to state and, finally, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. But aside from these high-profile issues are federal regulation and policy revisions, inclusion and appointments.
Andy Tobias, openly gay treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, put together a list of the Obama accomplishments to date. It’s impressive. No matter how you critique it, this was by far the best first-year presidency for LGBT issues.
According to Tobias, Obama: — Reversed an inexcusable U.S. position by signing the U.N. Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. — Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. — Endorsed the Baldwin-Lieberman bill, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, to provide full partnership benefits to federal employees. — Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act. — Lifted the HIV Entry Ban, effective January 2010. — Released the first Presidential Pride proclamation since 2000. — Hosted the first LGBT Pride Month Celebration in White House history. — Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King. — Appointed the first transgender DNC member in history. — Issued diplomatic passports and provided other benefits to the partners of same-sex foreign-service employees. — Committed to ensuring that HUD’s core housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. — Conceived an HHS-funded national resource center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders. — Testified in favor of ENDA, the first time any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA. — Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing federal hate-crimes law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. — Supported lower taxes for same-sex couples who receive health benefits from employers. — Hired and appointed a record number of qualified LGBT Americans, including more than 10 Senate-confirmed appointments (and now Ambassador David Huebner). — Changed the culture of government everywhere from — among others — HUD and HHS to the Export-Import Bank, the State Department and the Department of Education. — Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted. — Emphasized LGBT inclusion in everything from the president’s historic NAACP address (“The pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.”) to the first paragraph of his Family Day proclamation (“Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things”) to creating the chance for an adorable 10-year-old at the White House Easter Egg Roll to tell ABC World News how cool it is to have two mommies, to including the chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce along with the Secretary of the Treasury and the president of Goldman Sachs in the very small audience for the president’s economic address at the New York Stock Exchange. — Recommitted, in a televised address, to passing ENDA, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
Now, to my continuing drum beat: We need to make ENDA our number-one goal. It is a reachable goal. Last time it was up for a vote in the Senate, it lost by one. Now the Democrats have the 60-vote majority. Taking our traveling marriage show from state to state has consumed time and resources from a victory that would be for each and every one of us. Let’s make 2010 the year for ENDA.
Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].