Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 2011

If you have read this column for any length of time, you may have realized I can be *ahem* a little political. I know, Poppets, it’s a shock. For the most part, this is a good thing. The one problem I have found with being political, though, is it can also make you angry. I can tell you almost every setback, almost every hurdle we face. Hell, I have told you. I’m a little political, after all. There’s a bumper sticker that reads If You’re Not Enraged, You’re Not Paying Attention. Yep. I get it.

But I also get there is a lot of anger in this world already. For me, adding my anger to the mix isn’t always helpful. Often, it’s pointless, at best, and counterproductive, at worst. I mean, isn’t the whole point of being aware, of paying attention, of being a little political is to make things better?

So, in this month of Thanksgiving, instead of railing – although you know I could – I offer you this list of political advances we have made, and for which I am thankful. President Barack Obama has…



  • Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability -- the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation's history
  • Repealed Don't Ask/Don't Tell
  • Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
  • Reversed US refusal to sign the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
  • Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees in 2009 and, further, in 2010
  • Lifted the HIV Entry Ban
  • Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign service employees
  • Committed to ensuring that federal housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Conceived a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders -- the nation's first ever -- funded by a three-year HHS grant to SAG
  • Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation's largest employer)
  • Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted, encouraging couples who consider themselves married to file that way, even if their state of residence does not yet permit legal marriage
  • Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights
  • Required all grant applicants seeking HUD funding to comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals
  • Adopted transgender recommendations on the issuance of gender-appropriate passports that will ease barriers to safe travel and that will provide government-issued ID that avoids involuntary "outing" in situations requiring ID, like hiring, where a gender-appropriate driver's license or birth certificate is not available
  • Extended domestic violence protections to LGBT victims
  • Extended the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover employees taking unpaid leave to care for the children of same-sex partners
  • Issued guidance specifically to assist LGBT tenants denied housing on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Issued a National HIV/AIDS Strategy praised as "long-overdue" by the Task Force, Lambda and others
  • Issued guidance to 15,000 local departments of education and 5,000 colleges to support educators in combating bullying
  • Cut back authority to discharge under Don't Ask/Don't Tell from hundreds of generals to just 6 civilian appointees, effectively ending discharges while working toward a permanent end to the policy.
  • Led the fight that reversed a 2010 UN vote removing sexual orientation from the list of things people should not be killed for
  • Launched the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing
  • Determined that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional
  • Determined that LGBT discrimination should be subject to a standard of "heightened scrutiny"
  • Stopped defending DOMA, leading to "dramatic changes across the country and the federal government in the way that lawyers and judges see legal challenges brought by LGBT people - and, slowly but surely, in the way that LGBT people are able to live their lives"
  • Filed an unprecedented brief detailing the history of discrimination faced by gay, lesbian and bisexual people in America, including by the federal government itself -- the single most persuasive legal argument ever advanced by the United States government in support of equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people
  • Vacated a court order that would have deported a gay American's Venezuelan partner
  • Begun recognizing joint bankruptcy petitions filed by same-sex married couples
  • Endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act
  • Reduced the deportation threat faced by binational LGBT couples
  • Authorized military chaplains to perform same-sex weddings on or off military bases
  • Endorsed the Baldwin-Lieberman bill, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, to provide FULL partnership benefits to federal employees
  • Released the first Presidential PRIDE proclamations since 2000
  • Hosted the first LGBT Pride Month Celebration in White House history
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King, joining past recipients such as Rosa Parks
  • Appointed the first ever transgender DNC member
  • Testified in favor of ENDA, the first time any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA
  • Hired more openly LGBT officials (like these) in its first two years -- more than 150, including more than 20 "Senate-confirmables" -- than any previous administration hired in four years or eight
  • Sworn in Ambassador David Huebner
  • Changed the culture of government everywhere from – among others – HUD and HHS to the Export-Import Bank, the State Department, and the Department of Education
  • Appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, instead of conservatives who would have tilted the Court even further to the right and virtually doomed our rights for a generation.
  • Named open transgender appointees (the first President ever to do so)
  • Emphasized LGBT inclusion in everything from the President’s historic NAACP address. . . to the first paragraph of his Family Day proclamation and his Mothers Day proclamation . . . to creating the chance for an adorable 10-year-old at the White House Easter Egg roll to tell ABC World News how cool it is to have two mommies . . . to including the chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce along with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of Goldman Sachs in the small audience for the President’s economic address at the New York Stock Exchange . . . to welcoming four gay couples to its first State Dinner
  • Recommitted, in a televised address, to passing ENDA . . . repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell . . . repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act
  • Spoken out against discrimination at the National Prayer Breakfast
  • Dispatched the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call on the Senate to repeal Don't Ask / Don't Tell
  • Launched a website to gather public comment on first-ever federal LGBT housing discrimination study
  • Appointed long-time equality champion Chai Feldblum one of the four Commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Produced U.S. Census Bureau PSAs featuring gay, lesbian, and transgender spokespersons
  • Appointed Retired Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, an early public champion of open service in the military, to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services
  • Publicly invited the shunned Mississippi high school prom student to the White House
  • Successfully fought for UN accreditation of IGLHRC (the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission) -- against Republican attempts to block it
  • Convened the first-ever anti-bullying summit to craft a national strategy to reduce bullying in schools
  • Launched stopbullying.gov
  • Awarded $13.3 million to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center to create a model program for LGBTQ youth in the foster care system
  • Tweeted to 5.7 million BarackObama followers and nearly 2 million WhiteHouse followers the President's "It Gets Better" video
  • Embraced that campaign with heartfelt messages from, as well, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Agriculture (aimed particularly at rural youth), the Secretaries of Education and Health & Human Services, the Secretary of Labor (in English and Spanish), the Director of OPM and LGBT members of the White House staff
  • Issued a Department of Justice video urging kids to call a Justice Department toll-free number if their school is aware of bullying but taking no action
  • Held the first ever White House conference on bullying prevention, led by the President and First Lady
  • Hosted first-ever White House transgender policy meeting
  • Emphasized the positive value of Gay-straight Student Alliances (GSAs) and advised the nation's school districts of their legal responsibility to allow establishment of GSAs
  • Appointed the first openly gay man to serve on the federal bench
  • Nominated the first open lesbian US attorney
  • Nominated the first openly gay US attorney to serve Texas
  • Forced the Tehachipi Unified School District to prevent and respond to gender-based harassment
  • Acknowledged in federal court the U.S. government's "significant and regrettable role" in discrimination in America against gays and lesbians, arguing that DOMA is unconstitutional.
  • Appointed open lesbian activist to West Point advisory board
  • Used the President's annual United Nations address to say, "no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere."
  • Presented Janice Langbehn with the Presidential Citizens Award for her role in securing hospital visitation rights
~ compiled by Andrew Tobias, originally posted on www.eQualityGiving.org

Are there still issues? Please. Let’s not insult any of our intelligences by pretending otherwise – or even pretending everything the President said he would do has been done. And yes, we still have to stay aware of those things. But let’s stay aware of these things, as well. Sometimes, being political can mean knowing what to be thankful for.

2 comments:

Janbo said...

Found my way to your blog via neo_prodigy's blog, to thank you for re-posting this amazing list. When I hear anyone carp about what the POTUS hasn't done, I'll direct them to this post.

Ankhesen Mié said...

Sometimes, being political can mean knowing what to be thankful for.

Indeed.