Let’s talk about Secretary Clinton’s speech yesterday re international lgbt rights for a moment.
I’ve seen a lot of “America still doesn’t have marriage equality (which, somehow became the end-all-be-all measure of equality…) so that speech is bullshit.” You know what? You’re right; that’s a problem. As a matter of fact, the Obama Administration, particularly the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State, have all said that they do not support marriage equality. The President has said that it’s an issue on which he is “evolving.”
The reality of the situation is that Secretary Clinton yesterday was addressing nations where homosexuality is a crime. One that can land you in prison or worse.
In fact, if you read/listen to the whole speech, she admits that the United States does not have the best history and has not yet achieved equality.
But for people who complain about the Obama Administration’s progress on lgbt rights (I once unfollowed someone for saying that “Ugly Betty did more for the LGBT community than the Obama Administration,”) a review of some of the things that have happened in the last 3 years under President Obama’s leadership:
- The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Passed as a stand alone bill, not attached as a part of some larger bill.
- The passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
- Signing an executive order that requires all hospitals who receive federal dollars from Medicare and Medicaid (i.e. pretty much all hospitals) to allow any patient to designate their emergency contacts and allow their loved ones to visit them in the hospital.
- Stating that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and ordering the Department of Justice not to defend its constitutionality in court.
- Adding gender identity to the equal opportunity policy of jobs under the Office of Personnel Management.
- Directing federal agencies to recognize same-sex partners of federal employees, where they can, for the sake of benefits.
- Ending the ban preventing HIV-positive people from traveling or immigrating to the United States.
- Appointing more than 100 openly LGBT individuals to administration positions or federal judgeships. (Including the first openly gay man on a federal district court, the second openly lesbian woman on a federal district court, and the first openly lgbt nominee to a federal appellate court.)
- Filming an “It Gets Better” video where the President of the United States looked directly in to the camera and told LGBT kids that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them.
So, yes, gay* people, let’s keep pushing. But, let’s not just sit back and complain that someone who is TOTALLY fucking on our side isn’t doing enough. Instead, let’s do everything we can to elect pro-equality legislators on the local, state and federal levels. Those local legislators can enact anti-discrimination ordinances. The state legislators can pass marriage equality, enact anti-bullying laws in schools, fund pro-equality programs, etc. The federal legislators can repeal DOMA (there are more cosponsors now than ever before), enact ENDA, etc. We can make sure we don’t have decades of President Gingrich’s lifetime judicial appointees reversing progress.
Or, we could sit back and complain that the President hasn’t come out for marriage equality and bitch about how Secretary Clinton’s speech was disingenuous and doesn’t help anyone.