Barack Obama | Election 2008 | Gay Rights | News

Barack Obama Writes Open Letter to LGBT Community


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.


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  1. To Michael Bedwell
    Wow, lets see, who gave us DOMA, oh thats right CLINTON, who gave us DADT, oh that's right CLINTON.
    The two biggest pieces of anti gay legislation at the Federal Level in 20 years both done by CLINTON. (Sorry, she doesn't get out of this by blaming Bill since 8 of her 35 or 42 or whatever years of experience she supposedly has were First Lady).

    And the difference between Obama and Hillary on repealling part or all of DOMA are not insignificant like you claim.

    so go back on your HRC bandwagon and play victim politics for the rest of your life

    Posted by: J R | Feb 28, 2008 3:50:56 PM

  2. @Wes - While no candidate can "SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE" saying that you personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and traveling the country with anti-gay pastors sends me the message that you are towing the line. While other DEMs have towed the line for the right by not openly "SUPPORTING GAY MARRIAGE" some have not interjected their faith into the equation the way that both Edwards and Obama have. Again, what bothers me is that he is supporting a separate but equal "tolerance" of homosexuality. Obama is just pandering to the gay community and it is time WE stand together behind a candidate that will really stand for our equal rights.

    Posted by: matthieu | Feb 28, 2008 3:54:11 PM

  3. I forgot he that he spoke at Saddleback Church, which upset a lot of people who attend that church. I've been wrongly accusing him of limiting his speeches about intolerance to mostly Black audiences, but that speech, which occurred early in his candidacy further shows his goal to work with people of differing opinions, and tell them how he feel even though they may not agree with him. And that was a hostile audience, since they didn't agree with him on a lot of things, including abortion.

    Posted by: Cadence | Feb 28, 2008 4:00:49 PM

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

    "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."

    You state that marriage is a states issue. Is discrimination a States Issue?

    Its only a states issue is they allow it to be a States issue. I support the earlier post by Matthieu. I cannot support a black man who supports the " separate but equal" Jim Crow Laws for the LGBT community. It has never worked. Ask New Jersey.

    Besides, he states that his religion prevents him from supporting full marriage for LGBT. WTF? he's part of Universal Church of Christ. Apart from MCC and the The Unitarian Church,it is the most inclusive church for LGBT communities, so im not sure where that comes from.

    And while we are on the subject of His church,it has distanced itself from the Greater Universal Church of Christ in that it's preacher is not in full support of LGBT causes.He says he disagrees with his minister, but he has said this before.

    Posted by: The Realist | Feb 28, 2008 4:00:56 PM

  5. Don't listen to the rhetoric! He speaks well, he writes well. That's it!

    Posted by: Ken | Feb 28, 2008 4:01:04 PM

  6. Actually, JR, they were the biggest pieces of explicitly "antigay" legislation in our history, though DADT merely was a version by statute of what had previously been Pentagon policies [that's right, Dummy, GAYS WERE DISCHARGED BEFORE DADT!]. But your ignorance about that is not surprising given your argument to absurdity that they were simply "done by Clinton." Sorry, Dude, as much as he might like to be, Bill is not on the ballot. If you're too stupid to separate the difference, that's not my problem. And you no matter how many times you try to deny the facts, WANT to believe they're not true because that would tarnish your image of Obama On The Cross, his alleged superiority over Sen. Clinton on DOMA is just like Elaine's orgasms on
    "Seinfeld"—fake fake fake fake fake.....

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 28, 2008 4:02:52 PM

  7. "Besides, he states that his religion prevents him from supporting full marriage for LGBT. WTF? he's part of Universal Church of Christ. Apart from MCC and the The Unitarian Church,it is the most inclusive church for LGBT communities, so im not sure where that comes from."

    He's lying. Its not his religion, its electability. But he's a politican, he knows he can't actually say that.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2008 4:07:42 PM

  8. He's lying. Its not his religion, its electability. But he's a politican, he knows he can't actually say that.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2008 4:07:42 PM
    Post a comment

    Exactly. I've said it before. It is a reach around for the LGBT community. Nothing more.

    Posted by: The Realist | Feb 28, 2008 4:13:22 PM

  9. Realist, I heard from someone yesterday who goes to his church, and he said that they are very welcoming to the gay members of the church. Where did you hear that this is not true?

    Posted by: Cadence | Feb 28, 2008 4:19:13 PM

  10. I am really curious what Sen Obama has been doing to "worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act" since he has not sponsored the bill. I called his office (in DC) and they were unable to offer me any answer other than, I can get someone to call you back. Same answer I have been given for the past year. All this while, honest Americans are forced to leave the country with their partner to live in exile in one of the 19 countries that allow gay immigration.

    If you really support the LGBT community, why not introduce or sponsor some legislation to match your words?

    Posted by: dvortex | Feb 28, 2008 4:23:58 PM

  11. "I cannot support a black man who supports the 'Separate But Equal' Jim Crow laws..."

    Well, could you support a Guatemalan? What about an Ukrainian? An Ashkenazi? But you CAN'T support a blaaaaaaack man who supports "separate but equal"...Nooooh!

    I understand your message, but it doesn't play anymore: "blacks ought to know better because they complain so much about discrimination" Yeah, I know where you're coming from. But you CAN make an exception in this case. Sure you can. Every time you sit down in a gay bar that is 90% white or 90% black, you are accepting the "separate but equal" doctrine. So, voting for Obama will not be a vote for Jim Crow for gay people, it'll be a vote for the first presidential nominee (from a major party) to reach out this far to GLBT Americans.

    "...cannot vote for a blaaaaack man who supports 'Separate But Equal'...." Chile, please.

    It's Obama Time!

    Posted by: Derrick From Philly | Feb 28, 2008 4:27:02 PM

  12. Some of you queens bitched and moaned about his lack of response to the LGBT community. And now that he has, you STILL aren't satisfied. If the man came out in full support of gay marriage, it would not matter one whit. I don't believe you give a damn about the issues as long as YOUR candidate wins. And if he gets the Dem. nomination, I will bet that you criticize his every word while turning a blind eye to that disaster, John McCain. Old habits die hard, I guess.


    GO OBAMA!!

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Feb 28, 2008 4:31:22 PM

  13. Derrick, Perhaps you need to understand what the Jim Crow laws were and the relationship with the Black community before you start this race baiting.

    Posted by: The Realist | Feb 28, 2008 4:34:53 PM

  14. I don't believe you give a damn about the issues as long as YOUR candidate wins. And if he gets the Dem. nomination, I will bet that you criticize his every word while turning a blind eye to that disaster, John McCain. Old habits die hard, I guess.


    GO OBAMA!!

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Feb 28, 2008 4:31:22 PM

    Not at all. I will support the Democratic nominee whether it is Hillary or Obama. Which is more than most of the Obama supporters have been willing to say.

    I will hold Hillary to the same standard as i have Obama. She has alot explaining to do, also. I'm just not comfortable with Obama's "look at my right hand and don't pay attention to my left hand" approach.

    Posted by: The Realist | Feb 28, 2008 4:42:19 PM


    Up until 1967, when my family traveled down to Georgia to visit the rest of our family, there were either no restrooms for us at gas stations or a "Colored Only" restroom. Often I chose to use the bushes because the "Colored Only" restrooms had giant bugs & frogs in them...probably snakes too. I remember "Jim Crow", THE REALIST, and Barack Obama is not preaching Jim Crow standards for gay people.

    "race baiting" WTF Don't talk to me like I'm one of those damn politicians. Talk "real" to me, man.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 28, 2008 4:44:29 PM

  16. Its more than I've seen out of any of them so far. Its also a good start. For him to pu this out right now before next tuesday's primaries is pretty bold imo. I was big time pissed at him for McClurkin but he's been taking steps to make it up to me recently. And, like I said earlier, he's better on this than all the others who actually have a shot at becoming president. Hills hubby was telling Kerry to vote against us just last election. I don't trust her in the least little bit.

    Posted by: Jersey | Feb 28, 2008 4:54:55 PM

  17. Realist, how dare you say Derrick or anyone else has experienced. Why don't you deal with Derrick's point. Why are you holding Obama to a different standard than the other candidates? Why does he have to recognize that seperate isn't equal, but none of the non-Black candidates have to. Why are you ignoring Hillary's initial support for DADT and DOMA, and her claim that they were the right thing at the time. Or her claim that the time isn't right to fight for marriage equality. Why does she get a pass for saying that public opinion trumps people's rights.

    And how can somone seriously saying that Obama is just talking when he has sponsored or co-sponsored LGBT positive legislation in the past?

    Posted by: Cadence | Feb 28, 2008 4:58:51 PM

  18. I'm just not comfortable with Obama's "look at my right hand and don't pay attention to my left hand" approach.

    Posted by: The Realist | Feb 28, 2008 4:42:19 PM

    Well REALIST, I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I feel more comfortable with that than Hillary's "pay attention to HIS hands, not mine" approach!

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Feb 28, 2008 5:11:30 PM

  19. How nice of senator Obama to distribute this right before the Texas and Ohio primaries where he needs a win to knock Hillary Out. I've got news for you Senator Obama...Its not going to work, the majority of the GLBT community stands with the prson who has always fought for our rights...Hillary Clinton.

    Posted by: mark | Feb 28, 2008 5:14:35 PM

  20. Obama is the Pied Piper. He panders to gay people and they fall for it.

    Posted by: Stenar | Feb 28, 2008 5:15:35 PM

  21. So Barack Thanks for taking out ads in the GAY MEDIA (aka bar rags?)cause we all read them esp in Texas and Ohio.

    AND Thanks for the "fully inclusive" ENDA but not the "fully inclusive" MARRIAGE?!?

    Oh right we need to get what we can and go about this incrementally. Cause politally that is the best we can get this time of course...Hmm now where did I hear that stragedy before...NGLTF..LAmbda Legal PFLAG are you ready for this?

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Feb 28, 2008 5:18:28 PM

  22. When will we find out about the VP candidates?
    I'd rather vote for a Republican candidate like McCain knowing he's basically brain dead and his VP will be running the country(kinda like Bush/Cheney)than for either Egobama or Hillary at this point.

    Posted by: SFshawn | Feb 28, 2008 5:23:18 PM

  23. People, DON'T drink the Kool Aid !!! Sorry Obama. But where was all this effort when you had McClurkin by your side? THAT showed your true feelings more than you realize. Everything after that is just spin! Not all CHANGE is good. Change without experience is what ended us up where we are today. See gw bush in the history books.

    Posted by: Reggie | Feb 28, 2008 5:24:03 PM

  24. If your unrealistic expectations of Obama were met, he would not have a chance of becoming president. If Clinton met those same expectations, which she doesn't, she wouldn't have a chance either.

    "In protest, there must never be any compromise. In politics, there is always compromise."

    -Bayard Rustin

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2008 5:26:17 PM

  25. Cadence, the issue was Obama's denominational affiliation, UCC, not the particular congregation he is part of. I have also heard that his in Chicago has gay-affirming programs—out gays are definitely welcome in their "singles ministry"—but I can't find their position on marriage equality. My understanding, and Zeke from Florida is welcome to correct me if I'm wrong, is that while "marriage equality" is supported by the governing body of the denomination, unlike in some, individual church congregations within the denomination are free to make up their own minds. Whatever the beliefs of the leaders of the 8000-member Trinity United Church of Christ congregation, Obama has clearly gone against the beliefs of the denomination's hierarchy.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 28, 2008 5:28:39 PM

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