President Obama gave a rousing, well-rounded speech to an audience of LGBT people and their advocates in Washington, D.C. tonight, stating right up front, "I am here with you."
At the 13th Annual Dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, and on the eve of the National Equality March, the president acknowledged that equal rights for LGBT Americans was taking longer than expected, but promised that during his administration, we will see an end to employment discrimination, the end of discharging LGBT soldiers from the military, and recognition of same-gender relationships in the United States.
The president took particular care to remind the audience that the "American" part of LGBT American is the most thing to consider. Mr. Obama said, "it's important to remember that all the important things that affect the lives of Americans ... our families, our relationships, healthcare ... are also important to LGBT Americans."
That's nice. So when will we see action? I feel Unite the Fight is onto something.
So why do I feel disappointed?
Obama declared "there are still laws to change and hearts to open" and described discrimination as "painful and heartbreaking." He added that "We cannot and will not put aside issues of basic equality" and that he is standing with us against those "who would enshrine discrimination into our constitution." [...]
"I appreciate that many of you don't feel that progress has come fast enough," he said. "It's important to be honest amongst friends . . . It's not for me to tell you to be patient . . . I will say this. We have made progress and we will make more."
After acknowledging that we are impatient, after admitting that progress has been slow, after ignoring Maine and Washignton state, he stuck to a theme of incremental progress without a commitment to any timeline, gave himself credit for allowing gays and lesbians to play with Easter eggs on the White House lawn and then dressed it all up in beautiful language hoping yet again to distract us from the fact that the speech lacked any real content.
". . . do not doubt the direction we're headed and the destination that we will reach." But how will we get there? Convince me I shouldn't doubt!
If you want to see for yourself and decide, you can watch Obama's HRC speech at The Blend. It just seems to me like he offered yet more of the same. When will we see DOMA and DADT repealed? When will ENDA become law? When will we see full federal equality?
Sure, rolling easter eggs is nice... But it doesn't pay the bills, offer health care benefits, or offer legal protection to our families. When will we see full federal equality?
Remembering Stonewall is nice. Telling sentimental stories about our families is nice. But come on, we are under attack and our very lives are at stake. When will we see full federal equality?
We can't wait any longer. We simply can't afford to. We need action, dammit!
We don't just need words. We need action! And regardless of whether President Obama wants to act, we need to act!
While I appreciated Obama's nice words for our LGBT community tonight, I'm not settling for anything less than real action. I hope he joins us in taking action. But again, I won't be holding my breath. None of us should. We need to get working and keep working until we have full federal equality.