Rex Wockner Asks…

Rexwockner_2Veteran LGBT news reporter Rex Wockner is publishing a series of responses to his question, "How do you feel about the new president and what do you think he’ll do for LGBT people?" 

Among the bold-face names to respond so far: Edmund White, Larry Kramer, Lorri Jean, Dan Savage, Andrew Sullivan, Paula Ettelbrick, Kate Kendell, Peter Tatchell, John Aravosis, Felice Picano, Jon Davidson, Michael Musto, Scott Long, Patrick Sammon, Evan Wolfson, Ann Northrop, Amy Balliett, Chuck Renslow, Geoff Kors, and George Bakan.

I’m partial to Lambda Legal legal director Jon Davidson’s response:

"I am hopeful — and also watchful. I want President Obama to lead us
all to a more inclusive and just America and to inspire the nation to
live up to its highest ideals. He can restore balance to the courts and
be the spark that re-ignites the fire for civil rights in our country.
And there is a clear list of goals — things that we need and have been
waiting for long enough: passage of an inclusive ENDA and hate-crimes
laws; repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and DOMA; fair policies for
people living with HIV. But I know that a leader — even one as
powerful as the president of the United States — has no magic power.
The power of a leader comes from people demanding change and standing
up when he becomes a voice pressing for it. We’ll be there making those
demands. That’s what each member of our community needs to do as well."

What’s YOUR answer?


  1. DJ says

    After what Ive been reading from other readers on this site,some of the idiots here are very hateful toward Obama as if he was G.W.Bush. I still have faith in Obama.

  2. says


    did you get lost on your way to queerty? by and large we don’t call each other idiots here because we have more than one viewpoint.

    as my elders used to say, please …keep a civil tongue in your head, eh?

  3. damien says

    I think Obama will be the kind of president that listens to both sides of the aisle, unlike Bush whom basically surrounded himself with Yes Men/Women. It’s been proven by how he assembled his Cabinet team: Both friends and adversaries. He also hinted at this when he gave his acceptance speech by saying to those who didn’t vote for him, “I will be your president, too.” He seems to lack the self-righteous resolve that the previous administration had and that’s very promising to me.

    On the GLBT front, I agree with the LAMBDA leader. Also, Obama seems to be quietly moving toward making GLBT issues the mainstream – alongside issues like the economy and education: He’s not afraid to say the word “gay” in nearly every one of his speeches. He’s happy to speak with and have his team speak with the GLBT community (even after he won the election). A lot of gays blame him for not highlighting the GLBT presence, but I think it’s his way of helping the more socially conservative citizens deal with the GLBT lifestyle: By treating our lifestyle just like every other Middle American lifestyle. After all, we’re all more alike than different. Obama believes that and I hope he can help the world see that, too.

  4. noah says

    Ditto what John Davidson says. Obama is a leader, a politician. He has no magic wand to get Congress to do his bidding. Similarly, as with all politicians, he will have to be encouraged with kindness and harsh words to act on the behalf of GLBT Americans.

    That’s how politics works.

    Obama has to be FDR, Truman, and LBJ combined for him to succeed in changing the country’s direction financially and socially. Every one wants something from him.

    I want some version of ENDA and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes legislation this year.

  5. Sebastian says

    Jon Davidson could not have said it better and hit everything that is important to me as a gay man.

    And, DJ, the haters are on every site online with their catty nonsense, and, I guess they think they would have had it better under McCain/Palin, and since a third of the glbt communtiy voted for them, not that big a shock they would be anti-Obama/Biden, so, I’ll wait and see what he does once he is in office, instead of going off like some of these posters.

  6. jimmyboyo says

    DJ and sebastian if you had been a towleroad reader for more than the last week then you would know that I was……

    One of the LONE Obama supporters here from when the Iowa primary played out. The rest of you jumped on when it became a cool fad.

    Obama himself said to hold him to a higher standard and we are and he is messing up as far as our community goes.

    The dems are supposed to be the good guys/ our friends but we are quickly seeing them saying its a no go on DADT this term etc

    THIS early and one of the LONE Obama supporters from way back when thinks you newbies who jumped on when it became cool and are critical of those who are holding Obama to a higher standard should just F off with your flappity flap lips saying nothing.

    YES there are repub concern trolls latching onto anything and everything to complain about to stir poop, but there are those who were die hard Obamabots (quite a few here called me that way back when) who are seriously disappointed in being tossed under the bus. So again F off you newbies for him now because it is cool. Where the hell were you in the beginning?

    Sorry for all of the run on run on run on sentences

    HBO has now publicly stated that it was the PIC who wanted Robinson’s prayer NOT broadcast.

  7. jimmyboyo says


    obama’s stimulus package looks more like a repub stimulus with ONLY 85 billion towards shovels in the ground infrastructure and a whole hell of a lot of tax breaks for multimillion=billion dollar companies etc.

    Obama is coming off as more concerned with getting his face on rushmore alongside lincoln by kissing repub ass than actually accomplishing anything that needs to be done and will work.

    Hell, he wasn’t going to close gitmo till the far left blogosphere screached from here to eternity and now it LOOKS like he just might. We will see

  8. Dave says

    @jimmyboyo: Regarding your ground in the shovel comment.

    You might have noticed that the manufacturing industry started moving out of the US over two decades ago and nothing we do will magically make US manufacturing cheaper than China.

    It’s intellectual infrastructure that requires investment – and that’s precisely where he’s investing. For better or for worse, stuff is nearly worthless now, just as food plummeted in value at the turn of the 20th century.

    As for what we can reasonably expect, there is zero chance that Obama will repeal DOMA or recognize same-sex marriage at the federal level. But we can and should push hard for the repeal of DADT and the passage of ENDA. Inclusion as a fully protected class (aka hate crime protection) seems less likely to me. I also wouldn’t be shocked if even the protections we can demand with some hope of success didn’t arrive until 2011.

  9. says

    My life is most impacted by the lack of recognition of my marriage and its collateral consequences for our kids. I do not see Obama as working toward any progress on this issue. He frequently has repeated his personal opposition to marriage equality. In doing so he 1) ignores the constitutional law on the issue (on which he is supposed to be a scholar) 2)is oblivious of the consequences of what it means when the grand agent of “change” and “hope” says neither are needed on this issue and 3) makes no attempt to reconcile the experience of gay couples today with how his own parents would have been treated in 17 states when he was born and 4) ties his retrograde position to religious belief when religion does not trump civil rights and when some religions bless same-sex unions. I don’t see him doing anything to promote federal civil union legislation. I don’t expect him to ask Congress to repeal DOMA, our gift from the last savior of the community. Second, I think public hearts and minds are changed where people feel they know or respect an lgbt person. Therefore, I am very disappointed that there is no lgbt person in Obama’s cabinet or first tier appointments. Third, I do expect passage of ENDA and repeal of DADT, both of which are significant. I also think this would have been true had any other of the Democratic candidates been elected and had a Democratic Congress. Finally, I think that Obama believes that success in 2012 requires reaching out to Evangelicals and cross-over Republicans. I expect him to continue what he has done thus far in picking Warren and creating his cabinet– which is building his center-right cred irrespective of its consequences for the lgbt community.

  10. says

    David Goroff: very eloquent post.

    I agree with all the goals, I’m just still more optimistic about Obama on DOMA and marriage rights.

    He did say the following, and I think we should all hold him to it: “I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does.”

  11. anon says

    For those who wanted Clinton to win, it looks like she/they did, because so far, Obama looks like Clinton II in terms of policy, except without the fiscal discipline that got us to budget surpluses and higher real wages. He’s making Bush look like Scrooge.

  12. says

    [justified anger warning – deal]
    What David G. points out above is largely ignored by the MSM, and society at large, and that is criminal –

    Children’s rights are only as good as their parent’s rights! It is criminal that one child in one home has more rights than another child in another home in America. While some have every right to dismiss Q-marriage rights (or even be AGAINST our fight for marriage), they can get selfish when they ignore the reality of many, many Q-families with children today. It is really about FAMILY rights.

    We experience things that heterosexuals would NOT TOLERATE FOR A SECOND! Like when STEAMBOATER from HuffPost loses his partner of 24 years and the two kids he had adopted 6 years prior to his death are taken away by DCS the day after he dies and STEAMBOATER had no rights because he had no marriage rights and no lawyer will handle the case because “no judge will hear it” where he lives in the South.

    Ot when Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester was unable to insure that her wife would receive her pension before she died.

    I cannot fathom achieving our DUE EQUALITY without government having a MODICUM of legal respect for our beloved families; government seems OBSESSED and IN LOVE WITH hetero families…but says FUCK OFF AND DIE to our family and children. And we call in gay for a day. We are dirt legally, yet OK with gaining little bitty rights piecemeal for 30 years, unaware of the toll this will take on all of our collective psyches. Think PROP 8 repeating itself again and again and again….If You’re Equal And You Know it Pay Your Tax – I ain’t.

  13. JT says

    I continue to be ambivalent toward our incoming president. I don’t believe he has any real concern for LGBT issues. I don’t think he will do anything to help us reach equal rights. I believe he is more concerned with shoring up support with right-leaning voters in order to assure reelection in 2012. I’m not going to hold my breath for any substantive changes. He’s just a politician who talks pretty.

  14. jimmyboyo says


    I wasn’t talking about manufacturing industry at all.

    I was talking about infrastructure as in roads, bridges, schools, clinics, revamping gov crumbling buildings and museums, ….hell pay people to pick up the trash off the side of the road let alone larg scale enviro cleanup within our own borders. INFRASTRUCTURE. I’ll grant the Pell Grant (LOL) increase is cool and an investment in the intellectual future but we need to provide JOBS NOW and get cash flowing around

    85 billion is nothing!!!!! for the vast infrastructure needs of america. We are crumbling from within.

  15. Rocco says

    I remain hopeful despite Mr. Obama’s handling of the issues surrounding these
    1)Donnie McClurkin
    2)Rick Warren
    3)Gene Robinson
    Yes, I was an early supporter/contributer.
    Yes, I feel used and dumb. Yes, I can only blame myself. I am working on the hopeful thing.

  16. 2nd Class Citizen says

    I hope that inclusion goes beyond the African-American community. That the GLBT demand for equal civil rights is granted before more of us have to die or get beaten.

  17. Derrick from Philly says

    “I hope that inclusion goes beyond the African-American community. That the GLBT demand for equal civil rights is granted before more of us have to die or get beaten.”

    Well, things could be worse, 2nd Class Citizen: you could be an African-American GLB, then you’d be a 3rd Class Citizen. And Lord, don’t be a black transperson–that’s 4th Class.

    White gay men do rather well financially, 2nd Class Citizen (atleast better than African-Americans of any kind)…that’ll help you get your 1st class status same as you hetero brothers.

  18. Jeff says

    Two things. First, I resent the idea of the listed gay people as being “VIPs.” Very important to whom? Very important for what? Michael Musto is about as unimportant as they get.

    Second, Obama hasn’t given gay people any reason to be optimistic. He got the votes of gay people by using the word “gay” in key speeches. But what exactly has he done? He put Rev. James Meeks on his religious advisors steering committee. He put Rick Warren on the podium at the Capitol. And he hasn’t seen fit to put one openly gay person in a policy making position in the White House. Not one.

    I’ll take Bishop Gene Robinson’s position: Hold his feet to the fire.

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