Do you ever find yourself debating about war, the economy, gas prices, trade policies, jobs bills and tax plans when all of a sudden you realize you, or someone you know, or someone you love is a part of the LGBT* community and you realize while your caught up in debates of politics, your politics are struggles in their, or your own everyday life. The LGBT* community sees a lot of the issues it faces politicized and in looking at the game of politics, how have they been treated lately? This is what I wanted to look at in my fourth installment in "Obama's Progressive Credentials."
Obama has always campaigned, and looked like an ally to the LGBT* community, but campaigning is all about what you say, putting one's words ahead of their actions and using rhetoric to get the vote. Always and forever. That's not to say that you cannot or won't get things done, it just means that you can't take a politician on their word, especially their campaign word.
To start off with, the first thing I stumbled upon was this, "The Obama Administration has told government agencies that a court decision allowing health benefits for the same-sex spouse of a (single) federal employee applies to no one else." (Washington Post). And outside of the case of Karen Golinski and Amy Cunninghis, the office of Personnel Management has been directed by the department of Justice to continue applying the DOMA to all other situations. I am not trying to take anything away from Karen and Amy, please do not get me wrong for a second. I AM trying to call out Obama and his administration for there short comings, as I will reward them for what they've gotten and done right.
Obama has said that he will sign a Trans-Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). I would love to see this reach his desk before election day in November, so I could know going into the voting booth if he did or did not sign it. (Also, in January of 2010, the Obama Administration explicitly added "Gender Identity" to the list of qualities protected by the Federal Equal Opportunity Employment policies). Unfortunately, both the House and the Senate versions of this bill are stuck in committee. Obama has signed The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act. This act, signed by the president in 2009 expands the 1969 federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Also, on June 17, 2009 the U.S. signed on to the first-ever UN Resolution addressing human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The list of accomplishments continues. On June 9, 2010 the Obama Administration's State Department announced new guidelines for changing gender - makers on passports. The new guidelines removed the previous requirements that a person must have undergone sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) in order to have their gender marker changed on their passport. This new regulation requires a physician's certification. This of course raises the debate of why does an individual need someone else to tell them what gender they are or are not and also the factor of how expensive seeking help like that can be (when last I visited the therapist it cost me $75 a visit).
A lot of the advances the Affordable Care Act makes for the LGBT* community seem to be for those who can afford health care. It does a lot to create a more open and accepting environment and addresses the issues of HIV and AIDS but it neglects for Transgender people the fact that therapy is not only required, but extremely expensive. It doesn't address the issue of hormones or surgery for the Transgender community, either.
Lastly the Administration has ignored homelessness, in-home discrimination and bullying for the community at large and bathroom and changing room discrimination for the Transgender community. I don't know if Obama has made a single statement about all of the LGBT suicides, and because he is a human, because he is THE human who leads this country, he should address that epidemic and it's causes.
You can read my three previous installments in the 'Obama's Progressive Credentials' series here:
Obama's Progressive Credentials: The Middle and Working Class
Obama's Progressive Credentials: A Hawk In Dove's Feathers