Monday, June 03, 2013

When Words Lose Their Meaning...

It's June,  and that means LGBT Pride month.  To mark this  the White House released  the President's 2013  pride month proclamation.


For more than two centuries, our Nation has struggled to transform the ideals of liberty and equality from founding promise into lasting reality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans and their allies have been hard at work on the next great chapter of that history -- from the patrons of The Stonewall Inn who sparked a movement to service members who can finally be honest about who they love to brave young people who come out and speak out every day.

This year, we celebrate LGBT Pride Month at a moment of great hope and progress, recognizing that more needs to be done. Support for LGBT equality is growing, led by a generation which understands that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." In the past year, for the first time, voters in multiple States affirmed marriage equality for same-sex couples. State and local governments have taken important steps to provide much-needed protections for transgender Americans.

My Administration is a proud partner in the journey toward LGBT equality. We extended hate crimes protections to include attacks based on sexual orientation or gender identity and repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We lifted the HIV entry ban and ensured hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients. Together, we have investigated and addressed pervasive bullying faced by LGBT students, prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Federal housing, and extended benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Earlier this year, I signed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the implementation of any VAWA-funded program. And because LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration is implementing the first-ever Federal strategy to advance equality for LGBT people around the world.

We have witnessed real and lasting change, but our work is not complete. I continue to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as the Respect for Marriage Act. My Administration continues to implement the Affordable Care Act, which beginning in 2014, prohibits insurers from denying coverage to consumers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which addresses the disparate impact of the HIV epidemic among certain LGBT sub-communities. We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident too that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility. I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


It's lengthy, it's elegantly worded and as in years past,  a powerful testament to how far we have co.....zzzzzzzzzzzzz....    Oh sorry, I seem to have nodded off  the middle of this blog post.   Mostly because we have heard  all these wonderful words before.    

Yes they are truly, wonderful, powerful and  inspiring words.    There is the problem.   On the key issues  facing the LGBT community that is  pretty much all we have had lately.   Just words.   The most recent example of this being the  Comprehensive  Immigration Reform bill (CIR) currently  working it's way through the  United States Senate.  On the issue of inclusion of  same sex couples into this key piece of legislation,  the President  has been full of  the right words.  

At a recent press conference while on a state visit to Mexico, the subject of immigration  was front and center,  the President was clear and eloquent (again)  with his wonderfully supportive words.  

It is also worth noting, that all these clear  statements of support are invariably followed up with the caveat , of how  not everyone "is going to get everything they want .."  type language.   It's hard not to become cynical when hearing  that.     It usually means that when  the President later fails to put the weight of the  executive branch behind those wonderful words, he can take cover  behind  the banner of  "bi-partisanship".  When in fact,  the truth is,  both the President and  Congressional Democrats  simply gave in to  GOP demands.    

Which is exactly what happened  in the US Senate when faced with the choice to live up to their wonderful words.

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The President  could have  used the weight of the  White House to  pressure  the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to  hold their ground  on  the Leahy Amendments.   Now, I understand the  process that led  up to the massively disappointing  decision by Democrats to abandon  the provisions of  Same Sex couples that Senator Leahy has sough to include in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.   Yet  the facts are  it was an abandonment,   done  in the hopes of appeasing  Republicans who had threatened  to kill the bill  in the name of their own bigotry.

The Facts are,  the Democrats caved.  What's more, they caved  when they  had no good reason to do so.   The Republican Party is  a national  non-starter for  Latino voters.  The GOP desperately needs  CIR  to pass,  so they can  try to  convince  this crucial electoral demographic  that they really don't  hate them.    

Senators  Feinstein, Durbin, Schumer and Franken should have held their ground and called the Republican's  bluff.   It would have forced the GOP to vote on their own homophobia,  essentially forcing  the Republicans in the Senate,  (and  eventually the  House of Representatives as well,)  to  make a very public choice.   The choice between their long term electoral viability as a National Party, and their obsession with  hating  Gays and Lesbians.  

If the  GOP really is so stupid as to kill the bill  on this issue,  it  would have set the racism and homophobic bigotry of  the Republicans as the central issue for  for the  2014 midterms, a debate Democrats would have easily won.   Instead,  the Democrats, with the tacit approval of the White House, have  turned the clock back to  2009  and sent a very clear message to GOP that  all they have to do to effectively block  the President's legislative agenda is simply threaten to say No.

Like many,  I am always happy to hear wonderful words,    Yet there comes a point when words are not enough.   I am deeply disappointed with the Democrats choice to capitulate  to Republican fear-mongering  as quickly and as easily as they  did.

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