DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias has compiled a list of President Obama’s 30 biggest gay accomplishments during his presidency. Let’s take a walk through that list. And make sure you keep a running tally of how much political capital the President has spent to make these “accomplishments” happen – the total amount is zero.
Here’s the list, with my commentary after each “accomplishment.”
1. Reversed an inexcusable US position by signing the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
That’s nice. No idea how it impacts any of our lives, but I suppose it’s nice.
2. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees
That’s a lie. And it’s one the administration keeps pushing, even though we caught them in the lie, and the NYT reported on our catching them. The benefits weren’t “extended.” Gay federal employees were already getting these benefits for at least the past 15 years, under Democratic and Republican administrations. I got the head of OPM, John Berry, to admit this during a media conference call. It’s unfortunate that the administration and its allies continue to lie about this point.
3. Endorsed the Baldwin-Lieberman bill, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, to provide full partnership benefits to federal employees
BFD. Endorsed? With all due respect, WTF cares if the President “endorses” some legislation that he’s never going to lift a finger to help pass? This is part of the “all talk” nature of the President’s, and the Democratic party’s, commitment to our civil rights. They believe that talking about giving us rights is the same thing as actually giving us those rights or at the very least, trying to give us those rights.
4. Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
5. Lifted the HIV Entry Ban effective January 2010
Took him a year, and Congress had already repealed the travel ban during the Bush administration, but still, it’s a good thing.
6. Released the first Presidential PRIDE proclamation since 2000
7. Hosted the first LGBT Pride Month Celebration in White House history
The champagne version of “words.” This cocktail party was thrown together at the last minute to try to deflect attention away from the administration’s legal brief defending DOMA in court – a brief that invoked incest and pedophilia.
8. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King
Again, nice. But what’s the actual impact on our civil rights of these medals? How much political capital did the President spend giving these medals?
9. Appointed the first transgender DNC member in history
10. Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign service employees
That’s good. I still think it was Hillary who did this, but still, it’s a good thing.
11. Committed to ensuring that HUD’s core housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity
“Committed to ensuring?” Seriously, Andy? Those are words. It means he hasn’t done it. He’s simply said he will, some day. That will be a recurring theme.
12. Conceived a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders — the nation’s first ever — funded by a three-year HHS grant to SAGE
13. Testified in favor of ENDA, the first time any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA
Words. Obama hasn’t lifted a finger to get ENDA passed.
14. Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation’s history
This one is tricky. Of course it’s a good thing the bill became law. But the hate crimes bill passed Congress before, and even survived a GOP filibuster attempt. Any Democratic president would have signed the law. And again, Obama spent no political capital helping to ensure the law’s passage. HRC likes to say he did, but they can’t point to one thing he actually did.
15. Supported lower taxes for same-sex couples who receive health benefits from employers
“Supported”? What does that mean? Words. What did he actually DO to try to make it happen? Has it happened? Of course, the answer is “no” because the provisions were included in the House version of the Health Care Reform bill, but not the Senate version. And which version did the Obama administration support? The Senate version! So, in fact, they did not support us in getting this provision.
16. Hired and appointed a record number of qualified LGBT Americans, including more than 10 Senate-confirmed appointments
That’s great. But we didn’t get a single Cabinet secretary, even though three Latinos were nominated for the Cabinet. And let’s not forget our ambassador to Samoa. When do we get a real ambassadorship? Speaking of real jobs, the most senior gay in the administration is the head of the Office of Personnel Management. When do we get a policy job?
17. Sworn in Ambassador David Huebner
Yeah, Samoa. Mind you, George Bush and Bill Clinton both had gay ambassadors, so this isn’t really an accomplishment at all.
18. Changed the culture of government everywhere from – among others – HUD and HHS to the Export-Import Bank, the State Department, and the Department of Education
“Changed the culture?” Seriously, Andy? What the hell does that even mean?
19. Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, instead of a conservative who would have tilted the Court even further to the right and virtually doomed our rights for a generation…
Now that is utter bullshit. That’s not a gay accomplishment, unless she’s a lesbian. Has Sotomayor said she’s in favor of marriage? That she’d strike down DADT and ENDA? We’re to believe that the President picked Sotomayor expressly to help the gays? What is this even doing in a list of gay accomplishments?
20. Named open transgender appointees (the first President ever to do so)
21. Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation’s largest employer)
22. Emphasized LGBT inclusion in everything from the President’s historic NAACP address…
He gave a speech? Words, Andy. We’ve had enough of the pro-gay speeches. When do we get action?
23. Recommitted, in a televised address, to passing ENDA . . . repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell . . . repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act
LOL Okay that one deserves a laugh out loud. Now it’s an accomplishment when the President reiterates a promise he hasn’t kept, and has made no moves whatsoever towards keeping. Words. Why doesn’t he just reiterate the promise 30 more times, then this list could be twice as big!
24. Spoken out against discrimination at the National Prayer Breakfast
That’s nice, and had the President actually followed through on the significant promises, this one would be a very ni
ce addition. As one of the only things he’s done for us, it’s quite thin.
25. Dispatched the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call on the Senate to repeal Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell, in the meantime dialing back on discharges
Oh please. And he also let the Sec of Defense torpedo DADT repeal this year, which means it won’t happen for years to come (since we’re expected to lose massive numbers of Democrats in the fall congressional elections). Not to mention, we’re now going to list every single thing the President does to lobby for DADT as a separate “accomplishment”? And, we’re going to take an issue that he has supremely screwed up, like DADT, and give him credit for it?
26. Launched a website to gather public comment on first-ever federal LGBT housing discrimination study
Launched a Web site. I’m speechless.
27. Appointed long-time equality champion Chai Feldblum one of the four Commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
28. Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted, encouraging couples who consider themselves married to file that way, even if their state of residence does not yet permit legal marriage
29. Produced U.S. Census Bureau PSAs featuring gay, lesbian, and transgender spokespersons.
A rather minor accomplishment – I mean, created a PSA? – but I guess it’s a step forward.
30. Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights.
This one is also tricky. Of course, anything to help partners in hospitals is a good thing, but it’s a rather small step compared to everything the President actually promised. Had he followed through on the big promises, this would have been a welcome addition. But since this is now being touted as a huge promise, and it’s one of his only ones, it’s rather small bits.
In conclusion, there are a few significant accomplishments on this list – but even those do not rank in the top tier of promises made to our community by President Obama (i.e., DOMA, ENDA, DADT). They’re the B-grade accomplishments, and below. And even the B-grade ones, like Hate Crimes, are only a few – and even those, the President did little, if anything, to make them happen. Then there are things like “built a Web site” and “reiterated a promise” that are simply laughable, and show the lack of sincerity of those who claim that the President has been our best friend ever. They’re trying to trick us by compiling as large a list as possible, in the hopes that we won’t notice that the “accomplishments” on that list, for the most part, are all quite small.
We were promised CHANGE. Not change.