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. 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

    Cadence, here is the article from the Advocate

    Posted by: The Realist | Feb 28, 2008 5:32:51 PM

  2. ADAM: The Supreme Court struck down all U.S. sodomy laws in 2003. I think Bedwell may be on to people are amazingly uneducated about their own issues. And the President of the U.S. has absolutely no right, power or ability to "approve" or "legalize" gay marriage. In fact, the federal government itself has no powers of any marriages, period. I guess gays (along with many of their African American counterparts) skipped history and civics, too. *GASP* My dare I say anything that could even be remotely construed as disparaging against the darker-skinned masses under the hypnotic sway of His Messianic Holiness, Senator NO-bama! Anyone else noticed how, historically, time and again, they cut the throats of any white persons who stand and fight with them as soon as it comes down to choosing between them and one of "their own?" Disgraceful. If I were a Clinton, I'd wash my hands of their ungrateful race once, for all, and for good.

    JR: DADT isn't a piece of legislation, it is an official policy of the Department of Defense. Any executive can repeal it. If Senator NO-bama really was against it, he wouldn't need to claim that he will "work" to repeal it; he could simply do it by executive order. Instead, he'll do the same thing Bill did...which is to "negotiate" with "informed" members of the House and Senate, and then reach a "working compromise." Pfft. Claptrap.

    "Obama time"? More like NO-bama time.

    Posted by: abracadaver | Feb 28, 2008 5:33:59 PM

  3. Given that George Bush won as string of state by using anti-gay messaging, this is actually a bold statement.

    Also, go back and look at the statements from John Kerry's campaign staff that explained that Bill Clinton advised Kerry to support a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to win votes.

    At the end of the day, John McCain will appoint conservative onto the Supreme Court who will only be too happy deny or repeal hard won rights. Last year, the Supreme Court gutted Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark decision that overturned segregation in schools.

    Do you think that if McCain appoints more conservatives to the bench they won't go back allow anti-sodomy to be put in place?

    This is a fight for the future of American civilization. The Republicans don't care about average Americans and especially about gays or lesbians (who aren't rich closeted ones like Larry Craig).

    Both Clinton and Obama have maintained that they are very close on issues. So, I'll be happy to vote for either one for president though I would prefer Obama because I think he is for more sincere and competent to be a great president.

    And, let's be honest, given the MESS that Bush has created, the next president is going to face a tremendous amount of work to fix things: housing disaster, economy, wars, social issues, etc.

    Posted by: noah | Feb 28, 2008 5:35:16 PM

  4. Wes, Bayard Rustin also said, "We must never elevate charisma to greatness." Ironically, Rustin [an ACTUAL great black man] is on the cover of the Ohio gay paper whose back cover features the Obama "exquisitely vague" ad, his face gazing heavenward, his hands at first appearing "in prayer" [I kid you not]—with nothing about any SPECIFIC LGBT "right" that the Repugs can throw back at him. See at ---------but, NO, again: DO NOT VOTE FOR McCain UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 28, 2008 5:36:55 PM

  5. I voted for HRC but can't see why any of her supporters could seriously feel Obama is some terrible choice. In particular, why would anyone buy the "just words" argument. Every political candidate says "words" when running, and the hope is they provide action upon election. There's no need to seriously doubt Obama would do this if elected. He strikes me as a man of action and conviction. I love Hillary, but face facts, she voted for the war for no other reason than thinking "I am going to run for president." That should count against her as a person of action just as much as any negatives about Obama (for example, voting "present" so many times). I think moderates and left-wingers and even some Republicans have two brilliant candidates among the Dems to choose from. It's splitting hairs if you vote only on the issues. If you vote on personality and work style, then there is a bigger gap. But I think Obama having McClurkin sing for him (which DID piss me off) is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Feb 28, 2008 5:40:53 PM

  6. This is pure pandering by Obama. If he was so concerned about gay rights, he'd be putting those ads in the mainstream media, not the segregated gay media. It's in the mainstream where the issue of gay rights needs to be engaged. Don't forget that many gay people don't read the gay media and have little interest in the commercial gay scene.

    Posted by: jason | Feb 28, 2008 5:45:23 PM

  7. Michael Bedwell = Spam

    And to Mark at 5:14 -- Nonsense. Like Texas and Ohio somehow are ruled by the gays? I would say, given the populace in both of those (red) states, this was a gamble on his part.

    Regardless, as stated often above, this is head-and-shoulders above anything else out of any other viable candidate for president.

    No one's asking people to check their rationality and skepticism at the door. But when a candidate could have more to lose by making a statement like than than to gain, I cannot gainsay it.

    Posted by: GM | Feb 28, 2008 5:45:49 PM

  8. abracadaver—however much you might agree with me about some things, your race baiting is repulsive.

    And you are wrong about DADT—it was passed by Congress into law: TITLE 10 Subtitle A PART II CHAPTER 37 § 654.

    As for the federal government and "marriage"—while true that it does not engage in legalizing or banning same gender relationships, DOMA defines what a "marriage" and what a "spouse" is [man/woman] for purposes of application of any federal law that involves one of those terms. Both Sen. Clinton and Obama want to see Congress repeal this so that federal rights and benefits can be extended to gay couples. Such extension will require more legistlation but that is the minimal first step.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 28, 2008 5:50:07 PM

  9. Just to reply...Obama is free to do what he wants and Im glad he is taking a stance on things like shows some character. Texas is critical and no Texas isnt full of members of the GLBT community, but when the elction is this close every vote counts. If he truly cared about our community this would have come out long ago. I stand with Hillary for everything she has already done for our community...she deserves our support and thats just the way i see it.

    Posted by: mark | Feb 28, 2008 5:56:51 PM

  10. Perhaps I am indulging in race-baiting, Bedwell. That's a matter of opinion. But what I don't see is anyone denying its true, because we all know that it is. Ask the Jews who allowed themselves en masse to be beaten, hosed, imprisoned, etc. in the 1960s, and then promptly lost their jobs in the NYC school district several years later because blacks decided that black children needed to be taught by other blacks or they "couldn't learn."

    I have no problem with your choice to be a race apologist. Why do you have a problem with me deciding to tell it like it is? You'd do well under fascism.

    Posted by: abracadaver | Feb 28, 2008 5:57:13 PM

  11. like it or not, unless obama screws up big, he's going to get the nomination. this statement, in all honesty, did not have to be made. he could have easily gone on to texas and ohio without saying one peep about LBGT rights. i think it's easy to say "too little too late" but i think it's a hard-headedness on hillary supporters's part to cry out like this. the man is extremely level-headed and this statement goes to show that he is making an effort to let the LBGT community that they are not forgotten in the wake of hillary's utter failure during this campaign.

    go obama 08.

    Posted by: Chrissie | Feb 28, 2008 6:00:32 PM

  12. Mark,

    You make no sense. You criticize Obama for releasing this statement a few days before a handful of critical primaries. Well, when did Hillz release her open letter to the "LGBT community"? On the eve of the Duper Tuesday primaries, that's when. So you'll excuse me if I fail to draw any distinction between the two actions. They're both politicians campaigning, trying to swing voters in every demographic. Obama at least put his money where his mouth is and paid for a few ads in key states before he released a statement designed to garner free press.

    And since it's the reason you're standing with Hillary, perhaps you can also elaborate on exactly what "everything she has already done for our community" includes? I'm coming up blank there, since I don't recall her doing much of anything that her major Democratic competitors haven't also done.

    It seems that, like so many of Hillary's gay supporters—not to mention many of Obama's—you're just flailing about for ways to explain away your gut reaction to the two candidates.

    Posted by: 24play | Feb 28, 2008 6:09:08 PM

  13. It is not only the LGBT issue the we as the LGBT community should be voting. We need to be considering issues such as health care. Obama's plan fall way short of doing anything for our HIV/AIDs brothers and sisters. Hillary's plan goes much further in addressing those issues for the LGBT community.

    Single payer is the desired plan but full coverage for all Americans including the LGBT Americans is critical and needs addressed today, not years from now.

    Posted by: The Realist | Feb 28, 2008 6:21:32 PM

  14. Go AWAY Obama, '08!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 28, 2008 6:23:14 PM

  15. So Obama releases what could be such a controversial letter that could throw his chances at the presidency and maybe, just maybe, victories in the next couple of primaries and the most of you can't help but to see the glass half empty.

    Hell, the man didn't have to bother reaching out to us. With this kind of reaction, who needs friends like us?

    I just don't get the lot of you.

    Posted by: Astonedtemple | Feb 28, 2008 6:28:40 PM

  16. More WORDS.
    We have Obama's actions: touring with anti-gay gospel tour Donnie McClurkin to get votes in South Carolina. He refused to drop the guy from his tour.
    That action speaks louder than any words he could ever use.
    Obama is a sham. He tells the people he wants to vote for him what they want to hear. He needs conservative votes in SC, he tells them, "Look, I support the support of Donnie McClurkin."
    He needs us gay folks' votes in Ohio and Texas, and he writes us a letter full of empty words.

    Posted by: Bryan B | Feb 28, 2008 6:34:59 PM

  17. this all sounds very nice on its surface, but haven't we, as a community, learned yet that wishing does not make it so ? as odious as DADT is to us, we should not forget that the previous policy was even worse... and, as hillary points out, elements of DOMA have been useful in preventing an all-out push for a constitutional amendment that would be FAR more damaging to any future legal recognition of our relationships. political changes in a democratic society are often slow and incremental. hasty moves often have more deleterious repurcussions than steady, focused steps, emotionally frustrating as that can be.
    as others here have mentioned, i might have been more impressed by this pie-in-the-sky, typically "inspirational" laundry list had it been placed in the national media rather than slipped into niche publications. granted, as a 15-year-old this 'open letter' would have brought tears to my eyes, but i'm a bit older now and can recognize a little cheap political pandering to snag a few extra votes when i see it. she's not as showy, but hillary's clear-eyed pragmatism stands to be far more helpful to us as we continue our march toward legal equality. i only hope that the obama bandwagon hasn't already run roughshod over our making the wiser choice of a presidential candidate.

    Posted by: el polacko | Feb 28, 2008 6:51:24 PM

  18. Go AWAY David Ehrenstein,'∞

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Feb 28, 2008 6:54:11 PM

  19. WES, it's actually the UNITED CHURCH of Christ rather than the Universal Church of Christ.

    Mr. Bedwell is correct, our national denomination has endorsed FULL marriage equality, legal and spiritual, for all couples regardless of the genders of the pairings however not all congregations agree with or follow the national policy on this. The UCC is a Congregationalist church meaning that individual congregations have autonomy and aren't required to follow the national churches decrees. Trinity, Obama's church in Chicago doesn't seem to have a publicly stated position on the issue of marriage equality but I'm pretty certain they don't support it since they aren't even an "Open and Affirming" congregation. OnA is an official designation that a congregation adopts, through a vote of its members, stating that they are open, affirming and inclusive of GLBT people in the FULL life and ministry of the church. I find it surprising and a bit shameful that a UCC congregation so devoted to civil rights and justice for African-Americans would not be Open and Affirming. It does seem that they have taken some baby steps over the last year toward becoming more open to and inclusive of (if not affirming if) gay people.

    On a related note, the UCC is now under investigation by the IRS because Obama spoke at our national Synod last year. He didn't mention his campaign, none of his staffers or volunteers were allowed into the convention center, we were instructed to not bring ANY form of sign or other campaign paraphernalia into the event and it was specifically announced that he had been invited and accepted the invitation a year before he became a candidate. Obama spoke about his spiritual journey and the role that his twenty plus years as a member of the UCC played in his spiritual awakening to fight for social and economic justice just as Christ commanded. I was there and know that the investigation by the IRS is bogus and only meant to intimidate a liberal church that doesn't support our current government's every move the way the fundamentalists do. His speech is on DVD for anyone to see. WE, unlike our corrupt government, have nothing to hide.

    Oddly enough I've seen no sign that the IRS is investigating the Southern Baptist Convention for the MANY times Huckabee has given REAL and documented campaign speeches at Baptist churches, universities and conventions. I'm not holding me breath that they will.

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 28, 2008 7:00:01 PM

  20. El Polacko,
    "...but hillary's clear-eyed pragmatism stands to be far more helpful to us..."

    Def. of Pragmatism: a practical approach to problems.

    Yes, her pragmatism shined through in the handling of her campaign. A true inspiration to us all.

    And thank you for my laugh of the day.

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Feb 28, 2008 7:12:07 PM

  21. After campaigning for over 15 months and rubbing shoulders with 2 mondo anti-gay homophobe preachers I say too little too late. Hillary has been a great friend to the LGBT community for years. I'm supporting the best candidate for us, Hillary!!!!!!!

    Posted by: David in Iowa | Feb 28, 2008 7:20:34 PM

  22. I actually feel sorry for the Hillary campaign. Their even having hard times paying up the vendors and caters who helped the campaign out. I'm wondering if Clinton is still in the race just to raise enough money to pay up without hurting herself.

    Posted by: astonedtemple | Feb 28, 2008 8:07:45 PM

  23. In the Devil’s Dictionary Ambrose Bierce describes politics as “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” The views of Bierce, a real writer, were confirmed by Obama’s latest breathtaking escalation of hypocrisy.

    Obama’s dead set on locking up the nominating process by promising everyone everything. That explains the farce in Ohio. Obama and Clinton shamelessly lie about their common and long term support for NAFTA, When they denounce each other for supporting it for once they’re telling the truth. In fact bipartisan support for NAFTA, deregulation of corporate predators, tax cuts for the rich and cuts in welfare, unemployment insurance and heath care and the export of jobs have put us on the edge of economic chaos.

    In terms of the GLBT agenda both Obama and Billery continue to pander to bigots. But outrageous as Obama is as he hops into bed with bigoted vermin like Donnie McKulkin and Mary Mary, Billery Clinton goes way beyond him trawling for the votes of the senile bigots who dote on Pat Robertson, the bible fascist. She appeared on Pat Robertson’s CBN network to explain her deep commitment to ‘christian values’ like opposition to samesex marriage and to take a few cheap shots at Ralph Nader, a indisputable American hero. She bitterly explained that Nader is just a tool of the Republicans, the same slander she uses against Edwards, Obama and anyone else reckless enough to get in her way. Earlier Pat Robertson expressed his deep admiration for Clinton and congratulated her for ‘tacking to the right” as hard and as fast as she could.

    As usual both Obama and Clinton continue to support the genocide in Iraq by funding it. Both oppose socialized medicine, full citizenship rights for immigrant and imported workers, samesex marriage and neither lifted a finger to stop Barney Frank, Pelosi Reid when they tossed gutted ENDA and then tossed it and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill overboard. Neither has presented motions to repeal DOMA, DADT and NAFTA or to impeach Bush and Cheney or call for an International War Crimes Tribunal.

    A vote for either is a vote for Bush Lite – more war, a deeper economic crisis and bigotry.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue, RainbowRED | Feb 28, 2008 8:12:45 PM

  24. Man over 70 posts and so much heat, thank God, it's cold here in NYC, 23 last time I checked.

    The truth is unless Hilary, and most of you regulars know I voted for her, pulls a rabbit out of her hat our choices are McShame and Obama, oh and that loser Nader.

    My Irish Catholic hardcore Republican sister told me last night she wants Obama. So as much as I told my 4 even more conservative brothers he'd never get the nomination in racist USA, they are the ones who said he will.

    I will vote for who ever we nominate. Please people look at the end results, Obama or McSleeze.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Feb 28, 2008 8:14:05 PM



    I dont get comes a man using "pretty words" buyign them, JUST LIKE BUSH did...yes im talking about all those who voted for Bush and now are going after Obama...>THEY ALREADY damged our country and want to take it further....DUMB DUMB DUMB.........


    Posted by: Bosie | Feb 28, 2008 8:25:52 PM

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