Obama’s First 6.8%

Jim Burroway

April 29th, 2009

Barack Obama's LGBT Civil Rights ScorecardThe airways and the Internet are saturated, literally dripping with analyses and discussions of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. This despite the fact that he was actually elected to fill a 1,461 day term. That means that he’s only about 6.8% of the way through his term of office. My background is in engineering where we prefer to look at trends in a linear fashion. When I look at Obama’s first 100 days, 6.8% isn’t much to go on.

When Obama was sworn in, the White House announced an eight-point civil rights agenda for LGBT Americans. Using that as a score card, if he had ticked of just one item, he’d take what we call a “step function” and go from 0% to 12.5% of the way through his agenda. But since he’s only at 6.8% on the proverbial x-axis, it’s hard to say whether he’s behind or ahead of schedule.

In assessing Obama’s progress in fulfilling this agenda, it bears remembering that each of the goals listed require action from Congress. None of these can be addressed by a presidential order. But we’ve already been disappointed to see foot-dragging on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” not just in Congress but at the White House as well.

But on the positive side, hate crimes legislation is moving forward in Congress with the White House urging its passage. If it passes both houses and garner’s Obama’s signature by July 21 — that’ll be 12.5% of the way through Obama’s term — we’ll be on track. In this engineer’s mind at least.

You can do your part to help. Please call your representative and urge him or her to support the Hate Crimes bill.


April 29th, 2009

Only an engineer would see eight checkboxes and conclude that each one is worth 12.5% of his promises to the gay community. I’d gladly give up fifty “Microbicides Development Acts” if it meant one repeal of DOMA.

Here, I’ll call his strategy right now. He’ll do nothing for us until maybe 2011. Then he’ll choose something with overwhelming national support like repealing DADT. Somewhere between 70 and 80% of the country supports repeal. Find me one other longstanding issue that has 70-80% popular support in this country which the national government hasn’t tackled. Finally following through with it won’t be doing us a favor. But that’ll be the plan, and then he’ll turn to us expectantly, collection box in hands.

Screw it; no President gets my vote ever again if he doesn’t support my full equality under the law. I’m sick of getting the GOP position plus friendly rhetoric in exchange for my votes and donations. It’s never happening again. Unless we see some change we can believe in, all of my money and my only vote will go to local and state politicians who are actually willing to do something for us.

David C.

April 29th, 2009

I made the call to support H.R. 1913 yesterday before debate began.

As I remarked elsewhere, the passage of the hate crimes bill might actually accelerate the timetable for repeal of DOMA and DADT. I don’t think people should minimize the importance of this legislation to the gay-rights movement.

Like all interest groups, we would like our legislative agenda to be advanced without delay. The reality is different from those expectations, but that does not mean we should abandon support for those leaders with at least the fortitude to acknowledge our plight and call for redress. We must continue to press for change though, because that is the only way things will change.

The debate surrounding gay rights is starting to turn more on the question of civil rights. This is an important sea-change, and one we should continue to reenforce by framing our arguments for gay rights in terms of civil rights.


April 29th, 2009

As I remarked elsewhere, the passage of the hate crimes bill might actually accelerate the timetable for repeal of DOMA and DADT. I don’t think people should minimize the importance of this legislation to the gay-rights movement.

Perhaps. I personally think that ENDA would have more impact in that regard. Eh, we shall see but avoiding even a vote on DADT and DOMA would not go over well. Right now I don’t trust any of them on this and am concerned they are going to punt.

David C.

April 29th, 2009

Right now I don’t trust any of them on this and am concerned they are going to punt.—John

Yes, John, you are right, ENDA would have a greater effect, and the Armed Services are big employers.

Nevertheless, H.R. 1913 has passed the House. And yes, we’re not done with this yet, but I’m hopeful.


April 30th, 2009

Repealing DOMA would be such a blessing to me and my partner since I am a Federal employee living overseas. Even though my partner is American, she has no rights or privileges that the straight married couples have with their “authorized” spouses.


April 30th, 2009

Indeed. And it’s not as if Obama has been playing golf for three months. Honestly, the economy is a bigger priority than LGBT issues. What good protection from job discrimination if no place is hiring? Let’s keeping waiting to see.

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