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Friday, January 28, 2011

The "State of the Union" And The LGBT Community

State_of_the_UnionBy David Mixner -

As has been already much reported, President Obama's "State of the Union" address to Congress had a different tone than most. The President avoided the long laundry list of promises from a 'chicken in every pot' to a 'solar panel on every roof.' Historically that has been the format for such speeches. Instead, he painted broad and powerful concepts for America's future especially around job creation through technology and innovation. Last night Obama clearly made himself the first President who thoroughly understands the 'technological revolution' that is taking place.
Not since the 'Industrial Revolution' has America experienced such change that requires an entire nation to look at the future differently and with new eyes. Obama understands the ramifications of this new era in American history. From this perspective, the speech was outstanding.
Much was made before the President's speech on what he should say about LGBT rights. Quite honestly I was not disappointed since I had zero expectations. There was no question in my mind that this speech was going to be about job creation and America's role in the world. There was no way his political advisors were going to allow him to remove focus from those messages by saying anything meaningful about our continued struggle for full equality.
Yes, he did take a bow about DADT and the fact that soon we will be able to serve openly in the United States military. That would have been the perfect spot for him to have a line or two to follow about "the work is not done in this struggle for full equality for our LGBT citizens and we can't rest until everyone in America enjoys the same equality as other Americans..." That would have been nice. Instead he used it as a platform to promote bringing recruiting and ROTC back to our institutions of higher learning. That sure didn't thrill me. It was a missed opportunity.
The President knows in the next two years ENDA is not going to leave the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. In fact, we will be fortunate to kill anti-LGBT legislation leaving that governmental body such as repealing marriage equality in Washington, DC. The last election almost guaranteed that key LGBT legislative matters chances are almost nil or extremely uphill.
So what can the President do and say?
He can finally make the transition to unequivocally supporting full marriage equality and support our efforts in key states. He can make substantively powerful appointments in the Executive Branch and to the Federal Judiciary. The President can rapidly implement the Congressional mandate to fully repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He can put the force of his office behind making sure Transgender people are treated as full American citizens. The President can lend his voice to the battles we are fighting in the states. Finally, he can shake up the Justice Department so it is more about justice for LGBT citizens and not about making our road more difficult.
This is not an all-inclusive list but it is a beginning. So let's get busy and help him make it happen or if he is slow to the draw, leave him no choice except to help us

for more from David visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.


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