Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama's Big Gay Speech

Well, the Obama star power really wowed the crowed at the HRC dinner tonight. The speech was well rehearsed and touched on all the right subject matter. He talked about Matthew Sheppard and his parents, Dennis and Judy, who were the actual honorees of the event. He once again showed that he knows his gay history, talking about the Stonewall Riots, AIDS, PFLAG, Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. He worked the crowd like the pro that he is and received numerous ovations.

He patted himself on the back for inviting LGBT families to the White House Easter Egg Hunt, which sounded to me a lot like the suburban white guy who says he's not a racist because his mom had a black maid. The guy might not be a racist, but the fact that a black woman washed his tighty-whities when he was a kid doesn't give him any street cred. Similarly, including LGBT families at a White House event that they had every right to attend in the first place is not going to get Obama named Grand Marshall at next year's gay pride parade.

Most of the speech was a rehash of his election speeches. He said he would sign the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Act if it made it to his desk (which we already knew). He said he would sign the Employee Nondiscrimination Act (we knew that too). He renewed his promise to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (we already knew that one too).

Then, just as the crowd dutifully worked itself up to a well orchestrated crescendo, he slipped in something about passing the "Domestic Partnership Benefits and Responsiblities Act". WTF???

He'll work on  repealing DOMA and give us domestic partnerships, not civil unions, like they have in the UK. I thought we'd already established in this country that Separate But Equal is never equal and is therefore, unconstitutional. Should we start preparing our court challenges now and beat the last minute rush?

Reading the blogs, the FaceBook posts and the Tweets following tonight's speech, it looked like queer folks were falling into two camps: the knee-jerk supporters who will never question or criticize anything the man says and the skeptics who are waiting to be convinced. When I raised the constitutional validity of a potential Domestic Partnership Benefits and Responsibilities Act in a comment thread on FaceBook, I was called a hater.

When I checked in at Pam Spaulding's (Pam's House Blend) FaceBook page there was actually some intelligent discussion going on.Pam was blogging live from the HRC dinner and the comments were coming in faster than I could hit refresh.

Why is it hateful to ask the President to do right by the LGBT community? He's proven he can talk the talk. He repeated the same promises. He repeated his appeal for patience and offered us Domestic Partnerships instead of marriage. We pay our taxes. God knows we've paid our dues. Nothing less than full equality will satisfy our community. Why? Because we're Americans. Americans will never settle for second best.
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