Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Su Casa, Mi Casa

Yesterday, President Obama welcomed a couple hundred or so gay “leaders” to the White House. His press secretary insists that it was nothing more than a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, others contend that it was another stab by the Obama administration at mollifying the gays, especially after its first shoddy attempt only succeeded in further aggravating the lavender mob whose anger had reached a fever pitch.

The president did acknowledge the LGBT community’s frustration.

I know that many in this room don’t believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It’s not for me to tell you to be patient anymore than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half-century ago. But I say this: We have made progress. And we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I’ve made, but by the promises that my administration keeps …I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.
Like many, many others, I have long lost patience with Mr. Obama, his administration and the Democrats who control both Houses of Congress. I realize that the president does not have a magic wand with which he could bring about the change and equality we lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders seek. I grasp the hard reality of politics and even have fun musing about strategy. Nonetheless, a pattern of neglect has been established (see reiterative news coverage) and concrete steps could have been and still could be taken if only the president chooses to expend some political capital on a constituency that has consistently provided him and the Democrats capital for their campaigns. But I digress and belabor a moot point. As I have concluded a while back, we are a dispensable constituency.

However, we should acknowledge that yesterday was a first. As Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson enthused:
The very fact that he would invite 200 LGBT leaders from across the nation on the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the gay liberation movement is just an astounding thing … Most people were standing around not believing they were actually guests in the White House.
Although the good bishop tends to be effusive about POTUS, fact is, President Obama is the first Oval Office occupant to officially celebrate gay pride in the White House. He not only had LGBT leaders over, he also invited spouses, partners and children. By commemorating a landmark event in LGBT and civil rights history in such a public manner, may it be belated and for pragmatic purposes, the president sent a very strong signal to all Americans about equality, freedom and justice.

And he also gave us more words to which we can hold him accountable.
So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest. We must continue to do our part to make progress step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind. And I want you to know that, in this task, I will not only be your friend; I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you.
We will remind you Mr. President. Again, and again, and again.

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