The headline blared: "Where's Barack Obama, the 'Fierce Advocate' for LGBT Rights?" It was a recent post on Pam's House Blend, the highly popular LGBT blog, that got a number of peoples' attention in the community [http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/10757/wheres-barack-obama-the-fierce-advocate-for-lgbt-rights] Originally I was thinking Pam Spaulding, the blog owner, published a tongue-in-cheek title on a pan of a column in the Washington Post by Richard Socarides [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/01/AR2009050103401_pf.html]. Socarides, a former aide to Pres. Bill Clinton, rather shrilly taking the Obama Administration to task after they surpassed his 100-day mark.
What makes this especially disappointing is that it comes during a crisis-driven "change moment" in our country's history that not only cries out for leadership but presents a particularly good climate for making substantial progress on gay equality.Keeping in mind it was only 100 days into a brand new presidency with the largest amount of inherited urgencies of any presidency in modern times, I thought surely this was really going to get a slap-down for being rather immaturely impatient (not to mention self-centered). But no!
I think a good question to ask about the situation is where are the gays in the Obama White House? Is their presence merely tokenism -- that their existence is supposed to represent a salve to the wounds inflicted by the Bush administration? Another question -- do any of the gay White House aides and appointees have any influence on Obama? Clearly not much, based on the silence about LGBT issues.Even with the two closeted high-profile appointments, and numerous other
It's interesting in that, for years, the trans community has had more than mere silence but a complete lack of folks we in Trans America trust to stick by us no matter what. Oddly, we're always the ones called upon to trust "yet again" the very same folks who do us wrong time and again. And when we balk? Well, Marti Abernathey responded to that on this blog post:
You and people like you, who bitch about Obama, in THE MIDST OF PASSAGE OF THE HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION, really bother me. If you hadn't noticed, the economy is in the shitter, there are two wars going on, and there's a possible pandemic on the horizon. As far as Iowa, Obama has NEVER said he supported gay marriage.Apparently the hysterical "crazy tranny" disease was infectious, and gays and lesbians are just as susceptible. No wonder they were keeping their distance from us, eh? Actually, I don't even recall us getting that riled that immediately ... maybe our disease mutated?
If we come to the end of his term and he hasn't repealed DADT, passed civil unions, hate crimes, and ENDA legislation, then complain.
It's kind of amusing, after many folks in the trans community have been accused of being hysterical "crazy" trannies that just don't understand how the legislative process works, to have complainers repeatedly bitch about things that Obama didn't promise.
Apparently they didn't bother touching base with the folks from NGLTF or HRC recently about a meeting that about 30 of the LGB and maybe T organizations had with President Barack Obama himself recently. Columnist Deb Price had this to say [http://www.creators.com/opinion/deb-price/obama-puts-out-rainbow-colored-welcome-mat.html]:
To their happy astonishment, the president didn't just quickly shake their hands on his way to greet the 30 or so other guests that night.Yes, the President actually stopped and chatted with the gay and lesbian leadership personally, listening to their concerns on passing ENDA quickly, and even taking initiative to ask them when he would see the Hate Crimes bill crossing his desk with gender identity included in it! So far, it's already passed out of the House, and the President issued a cursory statement urging Senate to likewise pass it quickly.
Instead, he asked when hate crimes legislation will reach his desk so he can sign it. And he listened as they stressed the need for a federal ban on job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — legislation he supports.
"It was such a sharp contrast to the Bush administration — to have a president that recognizes the issues that our community has been working on for a long time," says Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"I was able to bring to light a number of economic inequalities that (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people face in the absence of marriage equality," Solmonese says. "I can't tell you how important it was to have that conversation."
Apparently, though, that's not good enough. Socarides (whose dad, oddly enough, is a psychiatrist Charles Socarides, the very one of the opponents to removing homosexuality as a disorder from the DSM), had the following agenda to demand:
First, he should start talking about gay rights again, the way he did during the campaign. What made Clinton such a transformational figure of inclusion was his constant willingness to talk to and about gay people. When he said, "I have a vision and you are a part of it," you could feel his sincerity.No big ask, huh?
Second, he should move swiftly, as he promised during the campaign, to help secure passage of the bill now moving through Congress imposing new federal penalties for anti-gay hate crimes, as well as legislation allowing gays to serve in the military. Ten years have passed since Matthew Shepard was killed. We have endured 15 years of "don't ask, don't tell" discrimination. We have waited long enough.
Third, he should appoint a high-ranking, respected, openly gay policy advocate to oversee government efforts toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. Give this person access to policymakers, similar to what has been done on urban policy and for people with disabilities. This is especially important because, unlike Clinton, who had gay friends such as David Mixner, Roberta Achtenberg and Bob Hattoy around to nudge him, Obama has no high-profile gay senior aides with a history in the gay rights movement.
Finally, Obama should champion comprehensive, omnibus federal gay civil rights legislation, similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and granting a basic umbrella of protections in employment, education, housing and the like (rather than the existing piecemeal approach to legislation). Such a bill should also provide for federal recognition of both civil unions and marriages as they are authorized by specific states.
"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious." — Yogi Berra
First, Obama talking to gay people – visits with 30 of them, including Rea Carey & Joe Solmonese – check! Move the hate crimes bill through quickly – just passed the House, and on to the Senate – check! Don't Ask Don't Tell – not much movement in Congress, so I guess that's the President's fault then, huh? Appointing high-ranking, respected openly gay policy advocate? We can't even get a trans policy advocate anywhere, even in gay and lesbian organizations, and they demand one from the White House! Hmmm.
And omnibus civil rights legislation! That's actually a good idea, and something I've thought about. Typically civil rights has three criteria to be filled before congress acts on it: a demonstrated widespread disenfranchisement or systemic discrimination, proven economic hardship and a lack of elected representation to address this. Both gay/lesbian and transgender can easily prove the discrimination, but economic hardship tends to be transgender almost exclusively. Elected representation has some for gay/lesbian, but absolutely zero for transgender. We can fulfill all three criteria if we only have documented proof of our economic duress.
Yet note which community Socarides is asking for civil rights for? Sexual orientation. Start talking about "gay rights" and "anti-gay hate crimes." However he does note "transgender" equality ... but only when talking about appointing a "respected, openly gay policy advocate" to oversee this.
Speaking of liaisons, there have already been 30 out gay and lesbian hirees in the Admin, including high level folks like Vic Basile and Brian Bond. We in the community even know a couple well-rumored folks already in those high level appointments, though there's no reason to out them (so I won't). It's not much of a secret amongst ourselves, though. How many trans people does anyone know of who've been in Admin, ambassador or staff positions? If you guessed zero, like all the other Administrations through history, you'd be right!
Now imagine trans people raising the issues with the same intensity! In fact, just imagine trans people raising commensurate requests from gay or lesbian organizations or administrations! I can easily imagine the howls from the David Smiths of HRC to the Chris Crains who own media outlets to the Jim Fouratts stirring the muck in columns and blogs to the apoplectic response from the Barney Franks on Capitol Hill. Do ya really think we're all judged and awarded by the same standard?
"He's one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides!" — President Harry S. Truman
And speaking of Ol' Barn', he recently issued a statement on the decision to award Diane Schroer, a former Army Special Offices commander who had been offered a job with the Library of Congress as a terrorism research analyst and when notifying the Library of plans to undergo sex-reassignment surgery to transition from male to female, had the job offer rescinded:
The decision by United States District Court Judge James Robinson to award $491,000 to Diane Schroer because of the blatant discrimination she suffered at the hands of James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, is entirely justified, and is a strong indictment of Mr. Billington’s tenure. When this case first arose, I personally called Mr. Billington to urge him to reverse the decision to deny Diane Schroer the job she had been promised, primarily as a matter of fairness. Sad ly, Mr. Billington refused, and the consequence of this is that the government will have to pay a half a million dollar judgment, in addition to the legal fees that it incurred.That's nice....
At the very least, Mr. Billington owes the taxpayers a prompt decision to reverse the discriminatory policy he enforced so that we are not again faced with a situation in which an individual is so unfairly treated, or that the taxpayers are forced to pay for the results that follow. Given the harm that has already been done to Ms. Schroer, I strongly urge that no appeal be taken of this decision and that payment to Ms. Schroer be made promptly.
When I spoke with Mr. Billington, he claimed, wholly implausibly, that he could not intervene in the decision to rescind a job offer to someone solely on the basis of her having undergone a change in gender, on the grounds that this was a personnel decision. Of course, the head of an agency has the prerogative to intervene in a policy matter such as this, and I regret the fact that because Mr. Billington refused to do so we are now forced to pay for his mistake. It is my hope that in this Congress, we will act to provide needed legal protection for people like Diane Schroer who suffer acts of discrimination, and in the interim, Mr. Billington will change the policy of the Library of Congress. As a Member of Congress, I am deeply distressed that the Library of Congress practiced discrimination in the name of the institution in which I serve.
What actually would've been nicer would've been to have not had the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) use Diane Schroer (exploit?) for some really beneficial public relations and to underscore the need for passing the Federal Employment Protections Act (FEPA) [HR 3128 in the 109th, HR 2232 in the 110th Congress) that was submitted a few weeks after her case hit the media with HRC. And as the legislation was submitted, it "protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
Notice anything there? Yep, use the trans person's abject discrimination to further a bill to benefit gays and lesbians only. Even though it didn't ever draw any more than 37 co-sponsors and did nothing but bottle up in committee, they weren't about to listen to trans complaints about adding gender identity in FEPA. How dare us!?!
Meanwhile, if Ol' Barn' was so concerned about this case and its outcome, why didn't he – as one of the lead co-sponsors – bother pointing the obvious glaring discrimination just suffered mere weeks before the bill dropped the first time? He certainly knew what gender identity was. Of course, the "official line" from HRC and NCTE was that it was "(Rep. Henry) Waxman's bill, and they couldn't get him to budge."
Now that's a steaming cowpie of mammoth proportion! Having visited Waxman's office in 2004 before the Schroer incident, the legislative director noted to me and my co-lobbyist on an unrelated bill that for their support of inclusive legislation, we "needed to get HRC on board first. If they aren't on board, it's going nowhere in this office." Yet it didn't stop HRC and NGLTF and others to push for passage of FEPA, with Diane's story of discrimination prominently helpful in giving the initial nudge.
But Barney? Well if he were so "deeply distressed" at the "blatant discrimination" of Ms. Schroer, he sure had a funny way of exhibiting it before now. In a nutshell, Ol' Barn' hadn't uttered a peep before now while the more exploitative folks used her story to further their cause while leaving her the rest of us trans folk behind.
These double standards coming from the gay and lesbian leaders are bigger than all outdoors. How they've determined that if we're not screaming about it then it's unnoticed really escapes me. They're determined to play trans people as brain-dead fools.
This author has determined that attitude is offensive as hell.
"People, who rise above their petty individual selfishness and work for the welfare of society are considered patriots." — author, Sam Veda