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Obama's Change.Gov Website Features Comprehensive LGBT Agenda

Changegov

A few weeks ago I was getting dozens of emails about President-elect Barack Obama's Change.gov website and its lack of any mention of the words 'gay' or 'lesbian'. That has now changed, and the site, which echoes Obama's campaign positions, features a civil rights agenda for LGBT Americans more comprehensive than anything we've seen from an incoming president. There is no doubt, however, that demands for marriage equality from the masses will only grow stronger, and at a certain point the leader of this nation will need to take the proper route and stand behind equality in action and name for all Americans.

Read the text of that agenda, AFTER THE JUMP...

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

The Obama-Biden Plan

* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

* Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

* Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

* Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

* Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

* Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

* Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

* Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Barack Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

Plan to Strengthen Civil Rights [change.gov]

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Comments

  1. ...there is much work to do and we all have a part...in the meantime, please note that the "agenda" on the Obama transition site is an historic step in helping secure many LGBT rights over the coming years of the Administration. Many, many, many people have been working very hard in the background to ensure that our community is represented at several levels of the Administration going forward and they will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.

    There is much work still to do, so please keep letting us know, and be part of this historic movement to change how our country represents and stands up for us into the future.

    Posted by: Chip Arndt | Nov 18, 2008 8:44:03 AM


  2. A black man championing civil rights? Who knew!

    Finally, someone who can talk the talk and walk the walk. Clinton, take notes.

    Posted by: Rad | Nov 18, 2008 8:46:57 AM


  3. This is historic! There has never been an American president/president-elect who has ever been as boldly in the court of GLBT/LGBT/Queer/Trans Americans.

    Could anyone imagine John McCain being supportive like this? Heck no!

    Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney? Heck no!

    As far they are concerned, it's not back of the bus, it's under the wheel of the bus for non-straights.
    ___________________

    Todd,

    Why is it any of your concern what someone else decides to call herself? You realize that the bigots for years refused to use the word "gay"? Major newspapers like the New York "Times" only used "homosexual."

    Being able to name oneself is about self-determination. African-Americans chose that label to recognize their original homeland and embrace the fact that most African-Americans come in different skin colors besides black. Native Americans chose a name for themselves rejecting a geographical inaccurate and colonial label of "Indian."

    Posted by: noah | Nov 18, 2008 9:05:48 AM


  4. That's nice. Where's marriage equality?

    We should not have to opt to "unionate civilly" with the person whom we love - we should be allowed to marry. Separate is not equal, not even if you are gay.

    NEVER SETTLE for anything less than equal, and never give up. We can do better than this.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Nov 18, 2008 9:35:49 AM


  5. This doesn't say ANYTHING!! Read between the lines people, this reads like campaign propaganda. Obama HAS BEEN ELECTED. it is time to stop telling us what he believes and what he did in the previous legislatures in which he served and tell us what he WILL DO now that he will, 100%, without a doubt, be President of the United States.

    Only under DADT, where he says he will work with the leadership to repeal the policy and under "promoting AIDS prevention" does he give any actual action items. the rest is fluff.

    Do not accept this as his "agenda," demand to see more action items.

    Posted by: Dan B | Nov 18, 2008 9:39:50 AM


  6. ANDALUSIAN DOG, I want to agree with you, but I think a promotion of national civil unions is the first step to marriage equality. The United States Supreme Court (like the state supremes in CT) have already ruled that separate is not equal. There are many who believe the true path to marriage equality will come in the way that it did in CT - legislate civil unions and depend on the precedence that have already been set by the courts on separate/equal to achieve full marriage equality.

    Posted by: Dan B | Nov 18, 2008 9:43:32 AM


  7. P.S. We know better than to buy this, and, sadly, we know that Barack Obama knows better than this.

    It's great that we have come this far, but it still is not far enough because we would still be second-class citizens under this plan. Yes, second-class in words, if not in practice. However, marriage equality is about perception as much as anything else, and if there are a set of words used to describe our relationships, such as civil union as opposed to marriage, then we will continue to be perceived as separate, different, not equal - and we are, as human beings and citizens of the United States, equal. So sayeth the Constitution.

    If Barack Obama is playing it safe and biding time by supporting the same rights and benefits under a different name that marriage offers until the time is ripe for a federal amendment can be passed for equality in marriage, that's also nice. But he's wasting time - OUR TIME, not his. This does not directly effect him or his family. And I don't like my time being wasted when this is an issue that is so transparently wrong, in fact, in words, and in history.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Nov 18, 2008 9:45:27 AM


  8. Per my above comments, I encourage everyone here to barrage Obama's e-mail with notes of disappointment. Tell him that he knows better, as a lawyer, as a legislator and as a human being. Tell him we will not settle for second best or second class.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Nov 18, 2008 9:47:27 AM


  9. This is fantastic, and I can only hope he follows through.

    The thing about marriage-versus-civil-unions is this: terminology be damned. It's the rights that're important, and the name that loses us the fight.

    The name will come in time. (for that matter, if I cll it a marriage, and my husband calls it a marriage, and my mom and my rabbi too, then it damn well is a marriage)

    Posted by: Michael | Nov 18, 2008 9:47:53 AM


  10. This is all very nice and well but what does the President-elect actually intends to do about these things? Does he have a game plan? We know what he believes but how does he intend to bring it about?

    Posted by: gay super hero | Nov 18, 2008 10:04:16 AM


  11. A black man championing civil rights? Who knew!

    Posted by: Rad | Nov 18, 2008 8:46:57 AM

    ***********************************

    Rad you are stupid, people like you are the reason why there is conflict in the first place between blacks and gays. you do know that BLACK GAY MEN exist also? right? idiot.

    Posted by: johnosahon | Nov 18, 2008 10:05:48 AM


  12. I agree with Dan B. At this point knowing what he has done as state senator or what he "supports" is not enough. We need to know what he'll do and what he'll fight for as President. There are a lot of 'states vs. federal' issues here that make this even more vague. i.e., just because he supported hate crimes legislation in Illinois does not mean he thinks there should be any Federal action on this issue.

    We have come along way, and we're closer than ever. I continue to support Obama and give him the benefit of the doubt. He knows we're waiting. And he also knows that asking people to 'be patient' about getting their civil rights has a nasty history in this country. (just ask nina simone: "Mississippi Goddamn")

    So let's continue with the peaceful demonstrations and making our voices heard, but let's not attack the best ally we've had in a President Elect before he even moves to Washington.

    Posted by: james | Nov 18, 2008 10:07:29 AM


  13. This is a big step in the right direction. It's ridiculous to complain about the lack of detail. For one, he has given a number of details: pass the Matthew Shepard Act, pass ENDA, repeal DOMA, enact legislation for civil union rights, oppose a constitutional ban, repeal don't ask don't tell. Compare this with other sections of the website; it's the same level of detail. He has set out his agenda, not written a tome on each step and move he will take.

    Posted by: Brian | Nov 18, 2008 10:46:04 AM


  14. Despite the negative vibes from some here, this is a development that actually does mean something. For the first time the glbt community is actually visible which under McCain-Palin would never have happned.

    And, on that list the one that matters to me is hate crimes laws and workplace discrimination.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Nov 18, 2008 10:47:29 AM


  15. "Rad you are stupid, people like you are the reason why there is conflict in the first place between blacks and gays. you do know that BLACK GAY MEN exist also? right? idiot"

    No, that's not true. RAD was being sarcastic, JOHNOSAHON.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 18, 2008 11:03:16 AM


  16. Since the Obama presidency hasn't actually STARTED yet, I'm willing to give him some time to figure out the smartest way to implement his plan. Let's face it, given the state of the economy and the fact of two wars, his initial focus is not going to be on gay issues. If he has taken no action before the midterm elections, I'll be pissed off. Meanwhile, I'm willing to give him some benefit of the doubt, since the McCain/Palin team would have had zero plan to improve our lives.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 18, 2008 11:27:07 AM


  17. What the hang-up by many gay and lesbian Americans on this so-called 'Marriage Equality' Marriage for gay and lesbian couples is available in Massachusetts and Connecticut (who know what the position will be in California). So those who get a civil marraage in MA or CT do not have equality with straight couples who have a civil marriage. No federal recognition, and little out of state recognition. So where's the equality, apart from in the name?

    The Kiwis and Brits seem to have solved the problem of keeping the Christian taliban at bay. In both these countries they took all the rights enjoyed in civil marriage, repackaged them all called it Civil Partnership (Britain) or Civil Union (New Zealand). Both countries are criticised by Americans for not having full equality for gay and lesbian legal relationships?

    Really? A civil partnership/union carries with it in both countries, the same tax advantages, the same pension rights, the same next of kin/hospital visit rights, inheritance rights, the right to adopt a child as a couple, and all the other benefits - and disadvantages - that stright couples have.

    The only differences between a civil marriage and a civil partnership/civil is:

    1. The name;

    2: A same-sex ceremony can not take place in a "place of worship" (a civil marriage can)- that silenced religion as they were not to be forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies;

    3: the cp/cu does not have "to be consumated".

    So go for Civil Unions or Partnerships in USA ... but make absolutly certain that, whatever the chosen name is, ALL the rights gained by civil marriage are there.

    Good luck with the LGBT rights issues in the USA. I am sure Mr. Obama (how I am longing for Jan 20 when it will be President Obama!) will deliver.

    And for all those lucky enough to have been able to "get hitched" in a State that allows such things, the bit of paper saying you are a "legal couple" is fully recognised in Britain and most other European countries.

    Posted by: mark | Nov 18, 2008 11:56:35 AM


  18. I think what's important to remember about Obama's historic candidacy and election is that it almost didn't happen: http://urbzen.com/2008/11/18/history-is-just-a-series-of-accidents-in-time/

    Posted by: StephanieInCA | Nov 18, 2008 12:13:22 PM


  19. LGBT rights. or is it GLBT? The great majority of voters- including, but most definitely not limited to, John McCain-don't know that it stands for GAY. Another wonderful slight of hand- Gays know what he's talking about, but most straights won't. Great way to slip it under the radar.

    Posted by: dc8stretch | Nov 18, 2008 12:14:41 PM


  20. Just for the record, Mark, if we have equal civil marriage rights, churches will not be forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies. This is a common and false argument raised by religious people and believed by many. Currently, some churches perform CUs and same-sex marriage ceremonies; that is their choice, just as it is the choice of other churches not to. Some gay people may want ceremonies in places of worship, some straight people may not. That's for individual couples and churches to decide. It has no legal meaning.

    Churches don't grant marriage benefits in the US, the state does. While an argument can be made for CUs because they're more palatable to the majority, neither straight people nor religion should own "marriage." Federally recognized CUs would be a huge step forward in the US, but that doesn't mean we should give up on full civil marriage equality like they have in Canada.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 18, 2008 12:40:34 PM


  21. Focus on the Family is going to come back to CA to get rid of civil unions, just like they ended up doing in Florida. Be careful guys, lets not settle for civil unions because they WILL be taken away from us. We must fight for FULL MARRIAGE RIGHTS, under the name MARRIAGE if we are going to be accepted and be equals.

    Posted by: JJ | Nov 18, 2008 1:39:06 PM


  22. you might recall how the bush administration ventured out and paid bloggers, writers and reporters to write well of the administraion. i wonder if Obama is doing the same? like giving the above spots at the convention, forwarding talking points and other such information to assist in the spread of information? we use to call that propaganda.

    the gay rights agenda says little more than it did when the change.gov site had nothing on it about gay rights.

    Posted by: tofer david | Nov 18, 2008 5:48:02 PM


  23. So we complained..and they basically pasted what they had on their campaign site.
    That's the facts.
    So Andy...we won!
    Guys we won....it's on the web page.
    And all we had to do...
    Look even though I am a supporter of a few national org HRC included I was thrilled with the creative energy that mobilized in the last two weeks...but it took a week of complaining and we get cut and paste?
    Correct me if I don't get this right but I seem to remember we had to point out to candidate Obama that he was missing an outreach to the LGBT community on his website at the beginning...We had to do it again?
    Look I know he's not personally responsible but doesn't he pay someone to get it right?

    Oh and one last thing...we need to keep an eye out for who he intends on heading up that Religious Initiaties Gov Office.
    How about we ask for his promise to make sure that that office does not discriminate against LGBT...or do we have to wait until he passes ENDA?

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Nov 18, 2008 5:48:53 PM


  24. Sorry but I think this is a very good thing from Obama. He isn't even President yet and there is a lot on his plate and he has included this on his agenda. I think this is a very good and positive first step. Give the man a chance to get in office first before naysaying.

    Posted by: dannie | Nov 19, 2008 8:31:13 AM


  25. Marriage isn't a "right" for anybody. It's a choice.
    People choose to marry for better for worse, whether it increases their cost of living or not. People ultimately choose to have children. Marriage is a religious and/or social construct, of which the government got their greasy paws on. Take away all the tax breaks and write offs away from everybody who gets married and has children, because they choose to do it. Then see how many of these certain groups of people argue for their "right" to marry.

    If it's only about love...then live together, be loyal and committed to each other, and invite all your friends and have a ceremony/party celebrating your committment to each other. Anybody can do this, so the debate is really about tax benefits and legal benefits rather than about love and commitment.

    If it's about love and not the tax breaks/money, then that's what they would be satisfied with. Otherwise, they are just hypocrites that never use logic or reason, but only go on irrational emotion, and who always think of everything in absolutes or "one size fits all" mentality.

    And as far as the conservatives, they are also hypocrites, for buying into the stupidity that marriage is a right by arguing against others "right" to marry, all the while taking full advantage of all the legal and tax breaks they get.

    If I ever become married and have children, it's because her and I ultimately choose to and wanted to.
    We shouldn't be rewarded tax breaks for that...nobody should.

    Marriage isn't a right for anybody, not even for heterosexuals. It's the celebration of love and commitment that 2 people both mutually choose to have and feel for one another.

    What it comes down to (like with most things) is an issue of personal responsibility. Nobody has the fucking guts to take responsibility for their own selves anymore. Society is becoming either posers or people who fear posers. I guess that's what happens when people demasculate or immasculate each other too much, or when people start believing their identity is correlated to who or what they feel attracted to, rather than their self-worth having to do with actually having good character. We need to start being true to our authentic selves.

    Posted by: Pat | Apr 23, 2010 12:04:31 AM


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