Obama And The LGBT Community

LGBT rights create a pretty important and somewhat personal topic to me.  In general, I support the rights of the LGBT community for the simple fact that I oppose bigotry in all of its many guises.

But there are also reasons that hit closer to home, like my brother whom I would like to see married some day, and provide my little girls with a cousin for them to tease.  There are close friends and people I have known and have had the utmost respect for, and to think that in some regards they have to suffer as second class citizens eats away at me.

That is one of the reasons I was glad for Sully who posted an open letter from Obama to the LGBT community outlining what he plans to do as President of the United States.  You can read it in its entirety here.

In all honesty, as I continued to read, I grew a little apprehensive; it’s not until midway through the third paragraph that he addresses an issue close to my heart.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

As many of you know, I served in the US Navy for ten years.  During those ten years I have worked with a great many shipmates whom I still respect and admire to this day.  And yes, of those shipmates a few were gay, bisexual, or lesbian.

What strikes me most is that those shipmates of mine who weren’t heterosexual, they served admirably; they were squared away and grew quickly to be recognized as experts in their fields.  One was commissioned as an officer thanks to that shipmate’s dedication to high standards and diligent work ethic.

They each took the same pledge that we all take when entering the service, and they were each a credit and honor to their uniform.  And still, despite outstanding service to their country, they were forced to lead a kind of secret life.  While most of my shipmates were allowed to bring their loved ones to command social events and ceremonies, these shipmates could not.

I learned about a year ago that one of these shipmates of mine was expelled from the Navy because of the fact he was homosexual.

That there are members of the LGBT community who are proud of their country, willing to serve their country, and willing to die for it, yet they are still treated as though their lifestyle is inappropriate is to me dishonoring their service.  It is a disgrace.

At the same time I understand how difficult the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is to approach.  It’s great if you’re talking to fellow liberals, but there are a lot of folks, high ranking military folks included, that don’t want to do away with it, that feel as though it would destroy the military if homosexuals were allowed to serve openly.

But you know something?  That was virtually the same argument used against African Americans as far as allowing them to serve equally and without bias in the military.  It would “disrupt unit cohesion”, and the military is not a “social testing ground”.

The military survived full integration of persons of different ethnicities in its ranks, and it will survive the full integration of members of the LGBT community.

For this I am thrilled that Obama takes such a hard stance on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  I am skeptical as to how successful he may be, but we’ll never know until someone has the courage to stand up and try.

That’s not to say that I’m completely and totally thrilled with Obama’s letter.  One thing that was somewhat disappointing is that he’s backed off on a solution to gay marriage that he has talked about in the past, and one that I think is the right solution; specifically, get rid of the idea of the State sanctioning “holy” matrimony, and instead have the State recognize and provide benefits for civil unions regardless of if they be between a man and a woman, or otherwise, and let the church they belong to worry about if the union is sacred or not.

I believe he talks about this in his book The Audacity of Hope, but I could be wrong.

The position in the letter is a softer position than he’s held in the past which is a little disappointing, I admit.  Yet, I also realize that while I think the solution outlined above is the right solution, I also realize that at this juncture it’s virtually impossible politically.

That’s how this stuff works sometimes, you have to take what you can get.  And from what I’ve read in this letter, I like a great deal of what Obama is attempting to take.

5 Responses to “Obama And The LGBT Community”

  1. I don’t have the link, but apparently Obama recently gave a speech in front a crowd of most religious African Americans. Now, I do not want this to be a dig, but there is an unfortunate strain of homophobia within that community. Obama brought up discrimination against gays, and the crowd got pretty silent and seemed to turn against him..until he changed tacks and pointed out the unChristian nature of bigotry..THATS what needs to happen.

  2. Yeah it was the speech he delivered and Dr. King’s old church, and you know, that was a big deal. You should seriously go over to the Newshoggers, and read my friend Shamanic’s post on this… It’s well, it’s really something just seeing the excitement she has for this guy.

    I really didn’t expect her to get excited about any of the candidates; not like this.

  3. DustinJames says:

    Put it in persepctive, Hillary and Barack have pretty much outlined the exact same philosophy in what they will do for gays and lesbians, and both are opposed to gay marriage, but pro-civil unions.

    But, it’s easy to talk your way into support, and actually stand and march for it, like Hillary did in the NYC Gay Pride Parade. Which parade has Obama marched in?

    The only action I know that Obama has taken on this topic was inviting the “ex-gay” singer to his campaign event at that chruch, which to me shows how much disresepect he has for people like me.

    HRC: Words and action.
    BHO: Words.

    I like people who take action, which is why HRC trumphs BHO in my book.

  4. Bostondreams says:

    DustinJames,

    How is marching in a parade ‘action’? How is it ‘courage’? If she wanted to take action and show courage, whe would have come out against DOMA and DADL when she had the opportunity; that is, when her husband signed them. She takes credit for her experiences in Bill’s administration, but if she cared about fighting for gay rights, she should have stood up and tried to influence her husband. Let’s SEE Clinton go in front of a crowd that has a history of homophobia and speak up about the rights of gays. She hasn’t done it. She marched in a Gay Pride parade in New York. Brave.
    Obama has argued for the repeal of DOMA; Clinton hasn’t. Name ONE thing that her ‘previous experience’ did for the cause of gay rights.

  5. A follow up link; this is the event I was referring to, held in Texas.

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0208/Selling_gay_rights.html

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