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From a piece I penned for the Daily Beast this morning. In this part of the piece I’m talking about liberal frustration with the President the first few years when it seemed he was almost afraid of change.
The turning point for many progressives was the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in December 2010. While the repeal was obviously a big deal to those of us in the gay community, I was surprised by how many of my straight friends on the left shared our sense of victory and elation, and by those in the media who characterized the repeal as a necessary first step toward Obama’s winning back the left in 2012.
In that moment, the conventional wisdom shifted.
LGBT civil rights stopped being a ghettoized issue important only to a small (but noisy) Democratic constituency and started being seen as a core Democratic value.
The Obama campaign now regularly cites DADT among its top first-term achievements—and not just when speaking to gay voters and donors but to the public at large. Gay rights switched from being perceived as an albatross around the necks of national Democrats to an issue that could galvanize the party’s base and, just as important, showcase the president’s courage.
And that’s the second important change that began with the repeal of DADT and was cemented with Obama’s embrace of marriage equality. Barack Obama became a leader in the eyes of a number of doubting Democrats and independents (57 percent of whom back gay marriage).
The president who seemed almost afraid of change became an agent of change. The man we voted for was finally back.