Barack Obama | Election 2008 | Gay Rights | News

Barack Obama Writes Open Letter to LGBT Community

Obama

Following yesterday's news that the Obama campaign had purchased a targeted ad buy specifically for LGBT media in Ohio and Texas, his campaign has released an "Open Letter to the LGBT Community" in which Obama reiterates his promises to eliminate discrimination, urge the states to treat same-sex couples with full equality, repeal DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Read the full letter, AFTER THE JUMP...

***
Open Letter from Barack Obama to the LGBT community

I'm running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It's wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans.

Equality is a moral imperative. That's why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans. In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection to the workplace, housing, and places of public accommodation. In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage. Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.

The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it comes to prevention, we do not have to choose between values and science. While abstinence education should be part of any strategy, we also need to use common sense. We should have age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception. We should pass the JUSTICE Act to combat infection within our prison population. And we should lift the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. In addition, local governments can protect public health by distributing contraceptives.

We also need a president who's willing to confront the stigma – too often tied to homophobia – that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. I confronted this stigma directly in a speech to evangelicals at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, and will continue to speak out as president. That is where I stand on the major issues of the day. But having the right positions on the issues is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones – and that's what I've done throughout my career. I brought this message of inclusiveness to all of America in my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. I talked about the need to fight homophobia when I announced my candidacy for President, and I have been talking about LGBT equality to a number of groups during this campaign – from local LGBT activists to rural farmers to parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached.

Just as important, I have been listening to what all Americans have to say. I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together. It is difficult. It is challenging. And it is necessary.

Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.

***END

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Comments

  1. Hooray!! More words!!

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 28, 2008 2:39:27 PM


  2. Truthful, straight-forward, non-pandering, and heartfelt. I do not see that in any other candidate.

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 28, 2008 2:42:53 PM


  3. Obama has won me over. I think he has made up for the McClurkin thing and I think its in our best interest to move past that incident.
    His language in the statement regarding civil unions makes me feel that although we may not get marriage with him in office we may well be moving more successfully getting it in all but in name and on the path to getting even getting the name as well.
    Most of all I think the viscous talk from some of the pro-Clinton folks needs to calm down. It is looking very likely that Obama will be our nominee at this point. We all need to come together to support him because the ultimate goal is to defeat McCain, who would be a disaster for our community and our nation.

    Posted by: AdamN | Feb 28, 2008 2:46:28 PM


  4. This is good as it gets, gay fellas & gay gals. You're not going get a president any better on GLBT issues than this future president--not anytime soon. Took me a while to get on the Obama bandwagon, but now that I'm on it it's all the way, baby!

    Y'all ought to thank God for him...or thank whatever the hell you believe in.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 28, 2008 2:46:29 PM


  5. Bah, I'm so sick of stupid responses by people like Mike. Stop buying into media talking points and look at politics for what it truly is. For fuck's sake, politics is mostly made of words and empty promises from everyone involved. The idea that any candidate one supports has one's own interests at heart is naive and laughable. News flash people: candidates, just like the government they aspire to lead, only have rational self-interest in mind.

    Posted by: tk | Feb 28, 2008 2:50:21 PM


  6. my esteemed sister from the east coast, Miss Derrick, is right, my dears... this is truly historic, has any candidate ever dared to come out so openly in our favor? i just hope he and hillary make up and join forces to overcome the powers of political darkness that threaten us all.

    Posted by: the queen | Feb 28, 2008 2:53:10 PM


  7. Sorry Barack... too little, too late. Where was this letter months ago, before you were racking up the wins & the campaign contributions? The media buys this week are so inconsequential -- we need to stop grasping at such token acts.

    Posted by: matt | Feb 28, 2008 2:54:14 PM


  8. Don’t j’all luv the halo effect behind my head in that picture? There are DOZENS like it out there! It’s almost as if news photographers were on my payroll! Now, here’s my first draft of this letter that I’m only sharing with YOU:

    I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters

    >>>>>EXCEPT FOR THAT LITTLE MARRIAGE THING. I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN [THAT’S WHAT I’M HEADED FOR :- ) ] — NOR ORANGE BLOSSOMS AT YOUR WEDDING.

    It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation.

    >>>>>EXCEPT FOR THAT LITTLE MARRIAGE THINGY, THEN IT’S RIGHT

    Equality is a moral imperative.

    >>>>>EXCEPT WHEN I SAY IT’S NOT.

    That’s why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans.

    >>>>>ACTUALLY NOT UNTIL AFTER I’D ALREADY BEEN IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE FOR FOUR YEARS....BUT WHO’S COUNTING? CERTAINLY NOT THE GAYS I’VE PLAYED FOR STUPID ALL THESE MONTHS.

    In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination

    >>>>>EXCEPT WHEN MY HELP WAS NEEDED MOST AND I WAS TOO BUSY CAMPAIGNING FOR MY NEXT HIGHER OFFICE TO EVEN BECOME A CO-SPONSOR OF THE BILL THAT HAD THE BEST CHANCE OF PASSING....AND THEN THERE WAS THAT LITTLE THING ABOUT LYING AND SAYING I WAS THE ONE WHO PASSED IT WHEN I WASN’T EVEN AROUND THEN. GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY THOSE GAYS WILL BELIEVE ANYTHING! ROTFLMAO

    In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees.

    >>>>>OOOPS, SORRY I FORGOT TO MENTION SEN. CLINTON DID, TOO.

    And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

    >>>>>OF COURSE, HILLARY WOULD DO BUT, SHHHHHH....

    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.

    >>>>>YEH, SORRY, WE’RE STILL TRYING TO FIND MY DICTIONARY. SOMEONE KEEPS CLAIMING I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF "FULL." [BUT I STILL GOT THE GAYS VOTES ANYWAY. ROTFLMAO.]

    I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment.

    >>>>>WHAT???? WOULD I TRADE MY MARRIAGE FOR YOUR CIVIL UNION? DO YOU THINK I’M STUPID?????

    But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples

    >>>>>PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT WHAT I’M ACTUALLY SAYING IS I BELIEVE I SHOULD NOT STAND IN THE WAY OF STATES DOING WHATEVER THEY DAMN WANT—IF THAT MEANS BANNING ANY KIND OF LEGAL RECOGNITION FOR GAY COUPLES…TOUGH

    Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

    >>>>>SURE, SURE. I KNOW THIS IS LEGALLY POINTLESS. MY LAW PROFESSOR TOLD ME SO. HE TOLD REPORTERS THAT, TOO, BEFORE WE DRAGGED HIS FLAPPING JAWS BACK TO THE HIVE. GAYS DIDN’T PAY ATTENTION SO MY HAT TRICK HAS WORKED ALL THIS TIME—WHY SHOULD I STOP USING IT NOW. ROTFLMAO.

    Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples,

    >>>>>DID I MENTION SEN. CLINTON AGREES? OOOPS, FORGET I SAID THAT!
    I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

    >>>>>AND I’VE PLEDGED TO CONSULT THE PENTAGON ABOUT IT…AFTER ALL , THEY LUV THE GAYS.

    I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act

    >>>>>DID I MENTION SEN CLINTON HAS, TOO. KEEP FORGETTING THOSE KIND OF THINGS.

    The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

    >>>>>WHY DO I ONLY WANT FIVE BILLION DOLLARS MORE TO FIGHT AIDS WHILE SEN. CLINTON WANTS AT LEAST TWENTY? NO EXCUSE. BUT GAYS AREN’T PAYING ATTENTION SO….

    …science….common sense. … sex education… combat infection within our prison population….needle exchange…

    >>>>>DITTO SEN. CLINTON BUT DON’T TELL ANYBODY—PARTICULARLY THE GAYS—I ADMITTED THAT.

    … we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones

    >>>>>DONNIE MCCLURKIN AND MY PAL REV. JAMES MEEKS STILL HATES YOUR STINKY ASSES BUT IS THAT MY FAULT?

    …I brought this message of inclusiveness to all of America in my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention.

    >>>>>WHERE I ESSENTIALLY SAID, "SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE GAY." THERE’S THE GUY WHO DOES MICHELLE’S HAIR….THERE’S ERIC STERN THOUGH HE’S ON PROBATION FOR SUPPORTING EDWARDS FIRST…THERE’S….UH….GIVE ME A MINUTE….I HAD THEIR NAMES WRITTEN ON THE BACK OF MY DICTIONARY…..

    I talked about the need to fight homophobia when I announced my candidacy for President

    >>>>>>ACTUALLY I ONLY TALKED ABOUT NOT BLAMING GAYS FOR THINGS LIKE TRAFFIC JAMS BUT…DIDN’T MENTION HOMOPHOBIA OR FIGHTING IT AT ALL….BUT Y’ALL HAVE THOSE SPECIAL GAY EARS WHERE I SAY ONE THING AND YOU HEAR ANOTHER…I THINK I’LL COIN A NEW WORD “QUEARS”...GET IT? “QUEER” AND “EARS”?.....SORRY: ROTFLMAO [GOT TO STOP—RUINING MY NICE SUIT HERE!]

    …and I have been talking about LGBT equality to a number of groups during this campaign – from local LGBT activists to rural farmers to parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta,

    >>>>>OK OK OK. I SAID NOTHING ABOUT LGBT EQUALITY IN ATLANTA….AND REALLY ONLY WHEN ASKED ABOUT IT ANYWHERE…..BUT I TALKED ABOUT HUGGING HOMOS….DON’T Y’ALL LIKE A GOOD HUG? OK OK OK…YOU’LL BE JUST AS SECOND CLASS AFTERWARD AS YOU WERE BEFORE ….BUT IT WAS A….FIRST…CLASS….HUG!

    I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans.

    >>>>>EXCEPT FOR WHEN I NEED PEOPLE LIKE DONNIE MCCLURKIN TO GET HOMOHATER VOTES FOR ME [NOTE TO SELF: ASK DONNY WHAT HE’S SINGING AT INAUGURATION]…EXCEPT WHEN I NEED PEOPLE LIKE MY HOMOHATING CLOSE FRIEND REV. MEEKS TO KEEP HELPING ME GET ELECTED [NOTE TO SELF: ASK JIMBO ABOUT PRAYER AT INAUGURATION…BUT REMEMBER TO TELL HIM TO TAKE THE GAYS OUT OF THIS HALLOWEEN HELL HOUSE THIS YEAR…TOO CLOSE TO ELECTION]

    But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced.

    >>>>>YEH, MY EARS HEARD DONNIE SCREAM "GOD DELIVERED ME FROM HOMOSEXUALITY!" WONDER IF I SHOULD ASK FOR A CUT OF ALL THE CDS HE SOLD THAT NIGHT—AFTER ALL I PAID FOR THE STAGE AND MICROPHONE. STILL HAVEN’T CONVINCED JIMBO EITHER…DAMN! WHY DID HE HAVE TO VOTE AGAINST THAT GAY RIGHTS BILL?…MEH. GAYS NEVER PAID ATTENTION ANYWAY. ROTFLMAO…I HAVE GOT TO TAKE THIS SUIT OFF WHENEVER I WRITE THESE THINGS TO THE GAYS....

    …full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. … we will achieve real equality

    >>>>>STOP WITH THE DICTIONARY!!! WORDS MEAN WHAT I SAY THEY MEAN! I CONTROL THE HORIZONTAL. I CONTROL THE VERTICAL.

    To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit.

    >>>>>OK OK OK. MAYBE NOT MCCLURKIN. MAYBE NOT JIMBO. BUT HEY! I BEEN BUSY CLIMBING BARACK’S LADDER. [NOTE TO SELF: THAT’S A GOOD ONE. HAVE DONNIE REWRITE LYRIC TO SING AT INAUGURAL]…AND AFTER WE WIN THE WHITE HOUSE I WILL RUN FOR ANOTHER AND ANOTHER....WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY??? ...YOU MEAN?....ARE YOU SURE?....MICHELLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!.......SO NOT ROTFLMAO.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 28, 2008 2:56:05 PM


  9. i too am late to the obama party - and i still think hillary would make for a more prepared president on day one, but that fact has lost some importance to me over the past couple of months. seeing what obama inspires in people and FINALLY hearing from him on issues i care deeply about in substantive terms has brought me around. he has my full support and i hope he can count on all you fellow hillary supporters to bring about the kind of change that will make a difference for all of us...

    Posted by: buzz | Feb 28, 2008 2:57:03 PM


  10. Does anybody actually read these Michael Bedwell posts, or do you all just scroll right past his screeching blocks of text like I do?

    Posted by: crispy | Feb 28, 2008 3:02:08 PM


  11. "Sorry Barack... too little, too late"

    Um... too late for what exactly?

    Posted by: Giovanni | Feb 28, 2008 3:03:38 PM


  12. If anyone watched the mtv/myspace last stand question and answer session with the candidates before Super Tuesday. Obama cam right out and said he is not in favor of gay marriage but civil unions. i know that personally for the same reasons that i can not support McCain after he allowed us to continue to torture POW. I cannot stand behind a black man that supports separate but equal.

    Posted by: Matthieu | Feb 28, 2008 3:03:44 PM


  13. @ TK, are you supporting Obama for a single issue? That is playing into the media game as much as reiterating a vague statement like "more words". What about his stance on the war? He's going to send 7,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight Al-Qaeda? He sounds like John Mccain. Obama gets military contractor contributions so of course he supports private mercenaries like Blackwater who (if you have forgotten) continue to behave as if they are above the law with no oversight or consequences. The tortue and innocent deaths will continue. What about nuclear weapons? Can we agree that no one ought to have these? Why does he keep the option of striking Iran with these bombs? Because Iran wants them? They only want them because their scared shit of the US. We are the only country to ever have used nuclear bombs, we did it TWICE and on a civilian population. What's even crazier is that I havent heard a single word on what to do with Bush and Cheney, their abuse of executive power and disregard for the constitution. Is obama going to rule within the extended powers that cheney and congress have bequeathed onto the presidency? Im not saying clinton is better than obama, not at all. it doesn't matter who you pick for president, there won't be change from them. Change comes from the collective work of indiviudals fighting for their rights. some dude you vote for isn't just going to give it to you.

    Posted by: matthew | Feb 28, 2008 3:08:49 PM


  14. Jesus, Michael Bedwell...get a grip.
    Its this kind of crap that I'm getting really sick of. Hillary and Obama are not that different in regards to gay rights. Either would be VASTLY preferable to anything from the right side of the aisle. So its time to calm down with this divisive nonsense.

    Posted by: AdamN | Feb 28, 2008 3:10:03 PM


  15. Yeah, Michael Bedwell, so after all that, we got your vote, right? Good. Now, you tell MATT to come to reality and realize it's a choice between McCain and Obama. That's your choice, MATT.

    But you're right about that picture of Barack, Michael. He looks sexy with that halo around his pretty head--like a sexy, slim angel.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 28, 2008 3:10:33 PM


  16. Michael Bedwell, you are so completely out of touch. This is a historic and hopeful sign that in the future the LGBT community will not have to display your level of jadedness.

    Posted by: JDG NYC | Feb 28, 2008 3:21:55 PM


  17. Crispy, lol. Hillary '08

    Posted by: davey | Feb 28, 2008 3:22:07 PM


  18. Eeewww, Derrick, O's got a bony ass... Give me Shemar Moore or Terrence Howard [please!]. LOL.

    But your main point is well taken. As much as I hope a miracle happens and O doesn't get the nomination [fat chance], if he does as expected:

    EVERY GAY VOTER WHO VALUES NOT JUST WHAT'S BETTER FOR GAYS BUT THE WORLD'S FUTURE MUST SUPPORT OBAMA OVER JOHN "ANOTHER HUNDRED YEARS IN IRAQ—THAT PRETTY LOBBYIST WAS ON FIRE WHEN I SAT DOWN ON HER" McCAIN!

    At this point, my FACTUAL dissents on Obama are merely submitted with the hope of eating into his vote totals so his head doesn't explode BEFORE he can be sworn in. And, let me tell you something, Ernie, the moment he is do NOT fucking let your guards down. We are WAAAAAAY down on his list of priorities no matter how broadly he smile fucks us now or then. We start making DEMANDS right away or NOTHING will happen.

    But McCain? He would be the political equivalent of nuclear winter if elected. And don't even THINK of simply not voting for anyone. Don't be silly—look what the Nadernuts brought us!

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 28, 2008 3:28:15 PM


  19. "more words." Apparently you don't understand that words are the currency of politics. What else does a candidate have? What do you want, someone to ride in on a unicorn and enforce legal gay marriage at the point of a spear? It's ridiculous to think that candidates have any other option than to EXPLAIN to us, WITH WORDS, what their intent is.

    As to his personal support for gay marriage vs. civil unions. This will matter when the ultimate decision will fall to the President whether or not to allow gay marriage; that will be never. Marriage is a state issue, and the pledge to repeal DOMA, urge states to recognize gay unions, then a pledge to support full-blown marriage if that's what states decide is the best you're going to get.

    Further, a Supreme Court justice from Obama will almost certainly support gay rights, unlike conservative justices who wanted sodomy to remain illegal because they thought it was icky.

    Posted by: Adam | Feb 28, 2008 3:28:59 PM


  20. I was touched by his letter. I hope he'll stand up what he's said.

    Posted by: Alfred | Feb 28, 2008 3:29:26 PM


  21. Frankly, if running her own campaign is any indication of how Hillary will run the country, forget it! She has run, perhaps, the worst campaign I've ever seen. She should have fired Mark Penn ages ago. And who the hell pays $4 million for a consultant? She had to lend her campaign $5 million which probably all went to Penn anyway.

    Neither McCain, Clinton, nor Obama have any elected executive experience. The only executive experience all three of them share is running their own presidential campaigns. And as we have seen, Obama has managed his by far better than anyone could have imagined. That's real leadership and that truly shows he's ready right now.

    Posted by: Minh | Feb 28, 2008 3:30:03 PM


  22. Michael Bedwell = Leland Frances

    Posted by: Derek | Feb 28, 2008 3:31:08 PM


  23. This Bedwell character is becoming a crashing boor. Whatever happened to Leland Francis? Although Leland was occasionally sarcastic and obnoxious, he offered cogent arguments backed up with facts. I miss him. I think it was the crazy Canadian preacher that finally drove him away. Too bad. As for Obama, he can make promises as all politicians do, but I doubt he'll accomplish much once elected. Like it or not, this is a very conservative country we live in and change comes very slowly. The African-American waited many years and suffered much pain before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came about. The Gay Rights movement (if such a movement really exists) has a long way to go and a lot of work to do before real equality is achieved. I don't think our Republic will be around that long.

    Posted by: Bob R | Feb 28, 2008 3:31:34 PM


  24. Sure.... words they are.

    But I can't tell you how much it would have meant to me as a 15-year-old growing up in suburban Boston who had never known another gay person to have heard the potential leader of the free world embrace us people like this.... Or to my Mom and Dad who were terrified about the way the country would react to their gay kid.

    This matters, more than any of us could possibly imagine.

    Mr. Obama, you grow more and more presidential by the moment.

    Posted by: Rufus | Feb 28, 2008 3:32:40 PM


  25. Any presidential candidate who comes out and says "I SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE" will NOT become president. Thats the sad truth. Most of the candidates realize this. I feel like many politicians who oppose gay marriage really don't on a personal level. You have to be stupid to seriously run for president and come out saying something that will secure your loss.

    I don't think Obama will stop gay marriage, he just won't work to bring it about. I think he probably doesn't give a sh*t about it personally, like most politicians, but cannot openly support it due to the prevalent stupidity of the electorate.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2008 3:34:58 PM


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