Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama's commitments to GLBTs

Obama posts campaign pledges on LGBT rights
By 365gay Newscenter Staff

(Washington) President-elect Barack Obama has laid out his commitment to LGBT civil rights in an eight-point plan posted on his transition Web site.

It calls for passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act; a gender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act; repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act; opposition to any attempt to reintroduce an amendment to the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, support for inclusive adoption rights; and an expanded war on HIV/AIDS.

The program is identical to Obama’s positions during the campaign and LGBT rights groups said it shows that the president-elect is committed to keeping his word.

The Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Act would add sexual orientation to the list of categories covered under federal hate crime law. It passed the House in 2007 and the White House threatened to veto it. In an effort to get around a veto, the Senate version was tied to the 2008 defense authorization bill. It passed but then went to conference, where it was stripped out.
Obama was a co-sponsor of the bill. On his transition Web site, Obama notes that in 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported, making up more than 15 percent. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama helped pass tough legislation that made hate crimes - and the conspiracy to commit them - against the law.


Obama, in his eight-point plan, also supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and says it must include gender identity.

ENDA passed the US House in 2007 without protections for the transgendered, but was not taken up by the Senate.

The legislation would make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee.

ENDA as originally introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) included transpeople, but Frank removed those protections in committee, saying it would be impossible to pass the bill if it included gender identity.

More than a dozen LGBT groups immediately distanced themselves from the legislation. Frank has since said he would fight to ensure an inclusive ENDA is passed.

Obama’s support for an inclusive ENDA virtually assures it will include gender identity when it is reintroduced in the next session of Congress.

“While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees’ domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy,” Obama says on the transition site.

Legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on gays serving openly in the military, was taken up in committee this year for the first time, but did not make it to a vote.

DADT was enacted in 1993. Since then more than 12,000 servicemembers have been dismissed when it was learned they are gay. According to statistics from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which advocates for gays in the military, an average of two service members each day are dismissed under the law.

“The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited,” the Obama transition site says.

“Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.”

The Web site also touts Obama’s commitment to same-sex families, but he remains reluctant to support gay marriage.

“Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples.” the transition site says.

“Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights,” the Web site says.

He also supports adoption rights for all couples “regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Obama’s plan also offers a comprehensive plan for combating HIV/AIDS.

“In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities,” the Web site says.

Part of that plan would see a diminished role for the Bush administration’s dependence on abstinence education, as well as distributing contraceptives in prisons and lifting the federal ban on needle exchanges.

Crush du Jour: Ryan McPartlin

2 comments:

A Lewis said...

We're off to a good start!

truthspew said...

This is one of the things I love about President Elect Obama. He's very consistent.

His stance on civil unions bothered me at first but I now understand the baggage attached to the word marriage.

Let the churches have marriage as their sanctifying event. Otherwise those who don't need church blessings get civil unions.

It's a bit of a twisted logic but I can see what he's doing.

He's showing people that we aren't boogeymen. That in itself is remarkable.