Saturday, August 02, 2008

Barack Obama on LGBT families

I have been struggling with returning to a more frequent blogging schedule. Most of it is work related stuff that keeps me from writing as much as I would like. But that's life.

It's been a while since I wrote about Barack Obama and the presidential race. I just checked past posts to see when I first mentioned the Democratic presidential candidate and I was surprised to see that it goes back to March of 2007 - loooong before his momentum-changing January caucus win in Iowa.

That all seems so long ago now and I still remember the general reaction from friends involved in politics in New York when I'd tell them I preferred Obama over Hillary Clinton. The general reaction seemed to be a mix of pity and concern for preferring someone who OBVIOUSLY had no chance in getting the Democratic nomination (I remember a friend telling me that he respected my political conviction but that sometimes in politics one had to be pragmatic and go with a winner).

Then came LGBT Latinos for Obama at a time when the argument was that few Latinos would vote for a black man and Sergio Bendixen, a pollster working then for the Clinton campaign, whispering to the New Yorker magazine that "...the Hispanic voter--and I want to say this very carefully--has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates."

Well, guess who Bendixen is working for now. Enough said.

Now, there's been a lot of blabbering about Obama becoming a centrist politician and of sacrificing his true political nature but, for some of us who have followed him even before Iowa, his recent positioning on issues have not been a surprise and actually reflect some consistency, except - perhaps - on FISA.

On LGBT rights some will still not forgive him for the Donnie McClurkin drama from last year despite the fact that McCain has lurched way right on LGBT issues flip-flippity-flopping on DOMA and adoption rights for same sex couples - trying to appease those on the extreme homophobic right who would love to see the gays stoned and tarred. And despite that Obama has been close to stellar on his support for the LGBT rights.

Anyway, as the presidential election enters the silly season (if these were the primaries and John McCain was a Democrat he'd long ago been asked to leave the race as desperate and insubstantial as his campaign is becoming), I wanted to bring your attention to a pretty amazing statement released by the Obama campaign earlier today.

Barack Obama on LGBT families:

In light of the recent and offensive statements by McCain on the right of same-sex couples to adopt, Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council, wrote the following to the Obama campaign:
As a lesbian mother and the executive director of Family Equality Council, the national organization working to ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families by building community, changing hearts and minds and advancing social justice for all families, I know how hard parents work to raise happy, healthy children. Regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identities, regardless of how many parents or caregivers are present in a family, all parents begin each day with their children at the forefront of their thoughts. On behalf of diverse families, I ask for your plan to recognize, respect, protect and celebrate all of the loving families you seek to represent... These families want to know how your administration will address their needs. What policies and positions will you take to make sure that all loving families are recognized, respected, protected and celebrated? How will you lead all families to a brighter future?
This afternoon the Obama campaign posted excerpts from a response from Barack Obama himself which reads as follows:
While we live in a nation that is enriched by a vast array of diverse traditions, cultures and histories, it is our commonality that most defines us. The desire to build a life with a loved one, to provide for a family and to have children who will grow and thrive -- these are desires that all people share, regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. My own experience has taught me this lesson well. I was born to a single mother, my devoted grandparents helped raise me, and then I married the woman of my dreams and had two beautiful daughters.
We know that the cost of the American dream must never come at the expense of the American family. For decades we’ve had politicians in Washington who talk about family values, but we haven’t had policies that value families. Instead, it’s harder for working parents to make a living while raising their kids. It's even harder to get a break.

That's why I'll double spending on quality after-school programs - so that you can know your kids are safe and secure. And that's why I'll expand the Family Medical Leave Act to include more businesses and millions more workers; to let parents participate in school activities with their kids; and to cover elderly care. And we'll finally put federal support behind state efforts to provide paid family and medical leave. We'll require employers to provide seven paid sick days each year. We'll enforce laws that prohibit caregiver discrimination. And we'll encourage flexible work schedules to better balance work and parenting for mothers and fathers. That's the change that working families need.
We have to do more to support and strengthen LGBT families. Because equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle; it's about whether millions of LGBT Americans can finally live lives marked by dignity and freedom. That’s why we have to repeal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act. That’s why we have to eliminate discrimination against LGBT families. And that’s why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws.

I’ll be a president that stands up for American families – all of them.
My expressed support for Obama has nothing to do with a cult of personality or the so-called Obama-mania that opponents use to disqualify support for the man (as a matter iof fact, I avoided some recent 'Gays for Obama' gatherings in the city because they seemed to much about rah-rah which I wasn't interested in).

I loathe false hopes and I am always weary of predicting who will win, specially when it comes to political campaigns. But this presidential race offers such an opportunity to do the right thing. Vote for Obama!

BTW, today and a bit late to the game, the DC-based Human Rights Campaign announced that they will officially endorse Obama this week.

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