Tuesday, March 04, 2008


So Barack Obama (or more accurately, Barack's communications team) penned quite an open letter about LGBT discrimination on February 28th.

I think I've made it pretty clear that whether it's Clinton or Obama, I'll be shaking poms poms (um, MY version of that anyway) and working my ass off for either of them.

But I have to say, it sure feels nice to be 'courted'. Much, much different than 2004, when the prez candidates were running as fast and as furious as they could away from all things LGBT. I know these are just words, and we will have to work really, really hard to hold him accountable if he is indeed our next president. And while his stance on marriage isn't perfect, still...it's just somethin' to read this very public letter from a candidate for our highest office.

Sure...we have such a long way to go. But if this isn't progress, then quite frankly, nothing is.

Read on:

I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans.

Equality is a moral imperative. That’s why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans. In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection to the workplace, housing, and places of public accommodation. In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.

Read the rest by clicking here.

And here's another rather remarkable Obama moment. A lot of people, including me, were very, very pissed off that he didn't dump anti-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin from a tour a few months back. It was a bad decision, and he heard from us and I will say that choice sits in the back of my mind, a lot. But a couple of days ago he redeemed himself a little bit, for me at least, at a q & a session in Beaumont, Texas...not exactly a hot bed of pro-LGBT constituents. He was asked a question about LGBT issues. And his response was truly fascinating. In a crowd that was clearly very Christian and not particularly supportive of the queer community, he found a way to connect with them and at the same time re-iterate his belief in treating every citizen, we queers included, with dignity and respect and that homophobia is very un-Christian state of mind.

You can watch it here:


MRMacrum said...

Interesting post. I find it somewhat contradictory however. It is obvious you desire equal teatment. I read that to mean you want the same rights to be who you are without recrimination, prejudice, or comment. Judge lest ye be judged type of mentality. Yet by the end of the post, you are passing judgement on Obama because of his inclusion of someone with a strong bias against the Gay community.

Tolerance from both sides is needed in order for any type of equal treatment. You will never convince everyone being Gay is okay. Silly obstacles fostered by upbringing, religion, etc will always cause all of us to harbor prejudices. But if we can at least get everyone on the same page to not pass that judgement beyond our own lives, it will be about as good as it gets.

The process has to work from both sides.

I find Obama's stand regarding all thing LBGT to be about as strong a support from anyone with his potential impact as I have ever seen. As a matter of fact I find him to be one of the few politicians in recent years that has reached out to everyone without the appearance of pandering. He makes no promises. He says what he believes. And that if elected, he will work to bring about change we all can live with.

As a state's rights advocate, I agree with him regarding the Fed's role here. Let the state's work it out first.

toklas23 said...

Once again Mr. Macrum, I appreciate your perspective, thought, and the time you took to share it with me. And I agree, wholeheartedly with much of what you wrote about Senator Obama. In fact, your 4th paragraph about him could have well been written by me. One of the reasons I posted his letter, AND his response at the q & a forum, is because I am moved and impressed by his willingness to stand firm with LGBT people. As I said in the original post, his ability to "connect the dots" between christianity and homopobhia at the forum was nothing short of brilliant.

I would like to respond a couple of your comments, all in the spirit of exchanging ideas, perspectives, and views. I like that kind of engagement...it helps me to see other sides of a coin, and I hope that the same is true for whoever it is I am going back and forth with. This is how I learn and grow and hopefully widen my world view.

You suggested that I am passing judgement on Obama because of his decision to keep Donnie McClurkin on his tour last year, even after learning of McClurkin's very anti-gay message. And you know what..you're right--I am being judgmental. And I'm actually one of those people who isn't exactly sure that 'judge lest ye be judged' is a golden rule. I think we sometimes we need to be judged. I just agree with Martin Luther King, JR. that it should be by the content of our character, and not by the color of our skin, or our religion, or our gender, or our sexual orientation...you know the list. And I think we all ought to be held accountable when we make poor choices that hurt others. I think keeping Donnie McClurkin on that tour was one of those poor choices.

McClurkin's anti-gay messages are hateful (homosexuality is a curse is one of his less blatant ones) and numerous. And yes, we all harbor prejudices (it is human nature after all). And he has every right to express his views and spread those messages, and honestly, I have no desire or will to take such a right away from him. But when someone is elevated to the stature of Senator Obama--he is running for the most powerful position in the world—that person also inherits an enormous responsibility. The world is watching, every step you take. I believe Senator Obama is completely sincere about his belief that LGBT deserve full equality, dignity and respect--and I believe he supports us with his whole heart. He has been open about it, he has spoken about it articulately and with great passion, and he has promised to do whatever he can to fight homophobia and to bring equality and freedom from discrimination to LGBT people. Which is precisely WHY he should have never let McClurkin stand on the same stage with him. What message does that send to the millions of LGBT people who see him as our greatest hope? What message does that send to the millions more who espouse McClurkin's homophobic views and see Obama's choice to tour with him as an endorsement of those views? I think it’s a dangerous contradiction.

If you are going to be an agent of change, if your vision and mission is to end divisiveness and to "heal a nation", then you must first lead by example. And I think part of that leadership means you don't give a bully, or someone with a message of intolerance, a microphone.

It was one mistake, and he has done some great work since then to recapture his credibility as a friend and ally of LGBT people. I have said again and again that I will work my ass off for him if he is the presidential nominee, and I mean it, with my whole heart. But it WAS a mistake, and if we don't hold him accountable for it, then once more, the bullies will silence us and the bullies will win. And quite frankly, I’m just plain tired of letting that happen.

I don't want to convince everyone that being gay is okay. It's impossible. It will happen the same day that everyone thinks it's okay to be Muslim, or Jewish, or black, or a woman, or left-handed, and on and on and on. I just want to do whatever I can to make the world safer for people who ARE gay. I want to do whatever can to end the second-class citizen (or less) treatment that LGBT people have had to endure, at great cost, this country.

And at the end of the day, I think Senator Obama wants that too. Which, honest to God, was the reason I published this post in the first place.

Thanks again Mr. Macrum, for giving me things to think about and to write about. Keep the comments coming.


MRMacrum said...

Sure Obama's inclusion of McClurkin early on was a political mistake. A mistake that was just that, a mistake. Not an indication of a position regarding LGBT issues. I guess I was reading a feeling that you were not sure because of McClurkin's presence.

The judgemental thing was being used differently by each of us. But by your inclusion of King's "content of character" thing, I can tell you and I are on the same page here. I look at Obama and see good content. I think you do also.

I have no specific rights issue or axe to grind. I am heterosexual, white, and closing in on the twilight years. I can never know how gays, women, minorities, etc really feel or see the World. But I feel regarding specifics of public policy, there should be no reason to even categorize them as something other than humans. The law should be completely color, gender, and sexual preference blind. But it is not.

And while the worst most obvious bias laws have been trashed, there is still work to be done to bring parity to all of us in the eyes of the law.

The ones that are left are probably the toughest ones to crack. And this puzzles me. I personally could not care less about homosexuality. It is a non issue for me. Why it is such a big deal is beyond my comprehension.

You mention that you are not out to convince folks being Gay is okay. Well, neither am I. Nor am I interested in convincing them it is not okay. From what I understand from the gay friends I have had in my life, it is not a choice. It just is. And punishing someone for something beyond their control just seems wrong.