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Obama gives us a nod, at least

January 28, 2010
Obama the Action Figure

The Obama action figure who's sat on my desk since his inauguration

I should first say tonight’s speech was the first State of the Union address I’ve watched in its entirety in quite a few years. As many faults as I may find with the Obama administration, I still find it refreshing to be able to see the president on TV and not have to change the channel immediately or risk hearing a comment that makes me cringe.

Throughout the speech, I was waiting for the moment Obama would mention the LGBT community (though tonight, really only the LG). As time wore on and he kept seeming to swerve away from us at the last minute, I felt like I could see the spots in his speech where Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had been removed. I actually came to chant “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!” at my screen, and eventually my magic words kicked in and he announced that he will work toward the repeal of the homophobic law this year.

That’s not much, but it’s progress. After promising to be a “fierce advocate” for LGBT rights, he’s done very little since his inauguration. He signed the Matthew Shepard Act, but his administration has fought extending rights to same-sex partners of federal employees and the Department of Justice has issued some truly horrible defenses of the “Defense” of Marriage Act that were widely decried. And while he could end DADT with the stroke of a pen on an executive order—just as he’s creating a bipartisan budget committee despite Congress—he’s refused to do so on this issue, instead continuing to let qualified members of the armed forces lose their positions for being honest about who they are.

Obama has said he wants to make it a lasting change through the legislature, but it certainly seems as if he’s unwilling to expend the political capital it takes to defend an unpopular minority. If the president is serious about moving this country forward, it’s time for him to use his power to truly effect change and give us all equal rights under the law.

ETA: Let Obama know what you think through the Courage Campaign. Deadline to respond is Monday, Feb. 1.

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