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President Obama's Failing Grade on Gay Rights


Dan Savage appeared on MSNBC yesterday and told Andrea Mitchell he'd give Obama an "F" on gay rights nearly four months into his first term.

And who wouldn't agree?

Andrew Sullivan also wrote up a scathing piece yesterday:

"I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away. Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all). And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada."

Watch the MSNBC clip, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I'm not going to lie, I'm don't consider myself all that invested in the marriage debate right now. I understand it and support it but I honestly don't have faith in the gay community as it stands.

    When the gay community matures beyond spiteful and incendiary comments that do nothing to further the conversation.
    When the gay community is able to effectively communicate it's needs and desires in a dignified manner, that's when I'll reinvest.

    I fully support Obama and will continue to do so, but I honestly never expected him to pass any gay legislation. The Civil Rights Movement was a ground up movement, not top down. We need to stand up for ourselves, learn to articulate our arguments in a more controlled way and learn to understand those who stand in our way in order to defeat their claims. We have so much more work to do within our own community that I'd rather Obama try and settle other things like keeping the country from collapsing and we ourselves will heal our wounds and fight for ourselves. I do support Obama, but he has too much shit to do right now. Call me self-hating if you must but I know in my heart that I'm right.

    Posted by: Salome | May 14, 2009 3:19:17 PM

  2. Attacking nor defending politicians will do nothing.

    Hoping for a new Harvey Milk or DR. MLK will do nothing.

    In order for President Obama to consider the equal rights issue as one of the top priorities (along with two wars, a slumping economy and health reform) WE need to start a revolution instead of a movement.

    The 40th anniversary of Stonewall is this June and from my understanding the main focus of all the Gay Pride events are the gorgeous half-naked men promenading around. We need to do more than just commemorating a monumental day for the Gay Rights movement with a resolution.

    President Obama may deserve an F but we have earned a D+ since our community lacks an action plan to show everyone we mean business.

    I hope next year we'll get our act together for the 41st anniversary of Stonewall.

    Posted by: V.Jay Kendall | May 14, 2009 3:45:35 PM

  3. So let me get this gay:

    It's not Obama's fault he's turned into a moral quadraplegic, it's the fault of the Clintonites HE hired, whose boss HE is. Or,

    It's not Obama's fault he's not kept a single one of his promises to gays, it's the gays' fault. Or,

    It's not the Commander-in-Chief's fault, it's his troops fault...and it's perfectly ok for him to let the homohating tail wag the First Dog and I don't mean Bo.

    Funny how Truman didn't let the racist tail wag him when he ORDERED THEM to racially integrate the military 61 years ago despite their very public, very racist objections, when blacks were far more hated than gays are now, when legal segregation of public spaces existed even in Washington DC, when 63% of voters opposed integrating the military versus up to 81% who support gay integration now, when his own close friends used the n-word and his own mother refused to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom because its namesake had freed the slaves.

    And Truman showed those balls in an ELECTION YEAR.

    The question still looking for an answer: what's Obama's excuse?

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | May 14, 2009 3:51:50 PM

  4. Michael,

    I know you have fond memories of life during the Truman administration, but it's intellectually dishonest (though, sadly, par for the course) for you to compare Obama's situation to Truman's.

    When Truman was president, there was no law passed by Congress forbidding blacks from serving next to whites in the military. Truman wasn't elected 16 years after another president tried to force the military to integrate and failed spectacularly. And when Truman integrated the services, the U.S. wasn't already embroiled in two wars.

    We already had a freshly inaugurated president try to force the military to allow gays to serve openly. It didn't turn out very well for us.

    You need to get a clue about political reality in Washington. Unlike many other issues/interests in Congress, when it comes to the military, public opinion polls don't mean shit.

    What Obama's doing will work. What you—and the morons at the Palm Center—are suggesting could very well set us back another 16 years on gays in the military. It could also end forward movement at the federal level on other LGBT issues for at least the rest of Obama's term. Goodbye ENDA. Goodbye hate crimes legislation. Goodbye UAFA. Goodbye to getting even a start on repealing DOMA.

    Is achieving the immediate good of stopping discharges under DADT right now—instead of, say, a year from now—worth putting all those goals, including full repeal of DADT, at risk?

    Posted by: 24play | May 14, 2009 4:31:29 PM

  5. V. Jay Kendall

    Thank you.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | May 14, 2009 4:35:08 PM

  6. At least with McCain we would have had a gay Chief of Staff. But, anyway, I did vote for Obama, and...I think he's probably not going to make gays a priority, but yet again- isn't it way to early to conclude that ?

    Posted by: JT | May 14, 2009 5:32:09 PM

  7. Pure fantasies and transparent excuses for your dashboard Jesus, 24. From it, one would conclude that the country is run by a military dictatorship. The President, any President [except Truman, of course... and Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1 and 2, even Clinton on numerous other occasions] has no control over them. Congress reports to them, too.

    Now, assuming that's true, why did great Constitutional scholar, the brilliant Obama tell us otherwise:

    "I will task the Defense Department and the senior command structure in every branch of the armed forces...I will direct my Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security ... "

    The full 2007 promise from which those are taken shows that he disagreed with you then ENTIRELY on what HIS role would be, could be, should be. Again, what has changed other than the curtain being ripped off of his insincerity about "leadership and principle"?

    "Fourteen years ago, the Democratic Party faced a test of leadership, and our party failed that test. We had an opportunity to be leaders on the World stage in eliminating discrimination against gay and lesbian service members, to recognize the patriotism and heroism of the hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian citizens who have served our country. Instead, we bowed to fear and prejudice. We were told that American soldiers weren’t ready to serve next to gay and lesbian comrades. We were told that our airmen, sailors and Marines would lose their “unit cohesion” if we implemented a policy of equality. And so, rather than embracing leadership and principle, we embraced Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a policy that is antithetical to the values of honor and integrity that our military holds most dear. Patriotic gay and lesbian Americans are now told that they may serve their country only if they hide their true identities. They are forced to live a lie as the price of risking their lives for their country.

    Fourteen years later, the United States of America lags far behind. We lag behind our military allies, who are repudiating discrimination against lesbian and gay soldiers in ever increasing numbers — in Great Britain, Canada, Israel, nearly every NATO member in Europe — all with no impact upon military readiness and performance. And our politicians lag behind the American people, who now call for the repeal of Don’t Ask,Don’t Tell in super-majority numbers. It is time for a change.

    As president, I will work with Congress and place the weight of my administration behind enactment of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which will make nondiscrimination the official policy of the U.S. military. I will task the Defense Department and the senior command structure in every branch of the armed forces with developing an action plan for the implementation of a full repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And I will direct my Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to develop procedures for taking re-accession requests from those qualified service members who were separated from the armed forces under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and still want to serve their country. The eradication of this policy will require more than just eliminating one statute. It will require the implementation of anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior as we transition our armed forces away from a policy of discrimination. The military must be our active partners in developing those policies and protocols. That work should have started long ago. It will start when I take office.

    America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. All that is required is leadership."

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | May 14, 2009 6:24:51 PM

  8. I think "p*ssed off" didn't get his free chicken from his KFC Oprah coupon. Relax, there's probably a Popeye's or Church's down the street. Tee hee.

    Okay sorry that was cheap humor. Sistuh Sojourn or whatever miss thing's real name is needs to relax. We need to keep putting pressure on B.O., he courted our vote, and we voted for him in very high numbers, now we expect him to deliver. Grow a pair, B.O.

    Posted by: Hank | May 14, 2009 6:43:56 PM

  9. Pissed Off: moderate your meds

    Dan Savage: Sweet God could you be more sexy? Your neck is like a pillar of marble and your voice makes me want you to order me to do bad bad things.

    Posted by: Christopher | May 14, 2009 7:45:14 PM

  10. pissed off,

    i have not heard a gay dem come out and say he was voting repub...i think we're just disappointed and interested in holding our president accountable.

    get a grip. you need some assistance.

    Posted by: tofer david | May 14, 2009 7:52:04 PM

  11. Like all american blacks whether christians or muslims Obama hates gays.It is not expedient or politically correct to say so openly now so he does nothing in favor or against knowing all along that the status quo is detrimental to gays and gay rights.To hurt gays all Obama has to do is:NADA.All you fools that believe that the black president was going to carry your banner I hope that now you realize how wrong you have been all along.I suggest that if your still waiting for Obama to help gays better do it sitting down otherwise you are going to get Varicose Veins.

    Posted by: Oscar in Miami Beach | May 14, 2009 8:24:26 PM

  12. I called the White House this week advocating for a Civil Rights Act for Homosexual and Transgendered Americans. We need to get active, vocal and think big picture rather than attacking the President and spending our energies on each separate issue: ENDA, DOMA, DADT, etc.

    Call your Reps.

    Call your Senators.

    Call the White House.

    Do it weekly.

    Posted by: leftypower | May 14, 2009 9:42:29 PM

  13. While I stand by my criticisms of Obama's still unfulfilled promises to LGBTs, your Troglodytic racism repulses me, Oscar.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | May 14, 2009 9:44:26 PM

  14. you gave bush a free pass for eight years....and the black guy gets only 4 months??.....dosen't sound racist at all.....

    Posted by: alan brickma | May 15, 2009 12:39:49 AM

  15. Oscar : There definitely is too much homophobia in African-American communities, but to assume Obama is a homophobe just because he's a straight AA poltician would seem....mistaken. Governor Patterson of NY is pro-gay, as is Mayor Fenty of D.C.

    Posted by: JT | May 15, 2009 1:02:49 AM

  16. If you live in a bad state, move to a state that protects GLBT human rights. I know I slept better than I ever have before when my state achieved equality. There are some states that are NEVER going to achieve equality. The USA will have broken apart long before they would even get close (Louisiana, Oklahoma and Utah are examples; heck the state supreme courts and legislatures in these states are so absolutely corrupt any sane heterosexual should leave these states too and never look back).

    Posted by: Daniel | May 15, 2009 5:24:37 AM

  17. Democrats assume they have the gay vote and Republicans assume they don't have our vote.

    Working for our vote would be a waste of time.

    Posted by: Rik | May 16, 2009 6:25:16 PM

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