That is, he’s doing what Congress – the House, specifically – has not done by not yet having passed ENDA.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, praised Obama for “showing strong leadership taking this historic action to advance equality in our country.”
But, Baldwin emphasized, Congress still must act. “The fight to pass on to the next generation an America that is more equal not less does not end with the president’s signature,” she said. “We have more work to do. Every American deserves the freedom to work free from discrimination and last year the Senate found common ground, passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with strong bipartisan support. I will continue to call on the House to put progress ahead of politics and give the Senate-passed ENDA an up or down vote because this legislation provides workplace protections that millions more Americans need and deserve today.”
I’m not convinced Congress will act, however, so at least there’s something in place now.
I went to see President Obama speak in Green Bay yesterday, and was lucky enough to have a ticket that got me very close to the stage. It was on the tarmac of Green Bay’s airport, and Air Force One flew him in.
And I thought, as I watched him continue around the circle of people who were clamoring to shake his hand, that I could not think of anyone, right now, who I admire more than him. (Here are some more pictures of that event.)
It’s an amazing thing to get to look your own president in the eye. More amazing still to feel him squeeze your hand. His warmth came across powerfully, and the smart in his eyes is unmistakeable. That man’s got a deep soul; he is, as people who believe in that sort of thing would say, an old soul.
But the source of my admiration isn’t all of that. It’s that he believes – and has put into place – policy that makes my life as a queer person and as the partner of a trans person one of dignity and respect. I feel actually equal and a little less scared living in a world where this White House gets to set policy on how I should be treated by my government and by the people around me.
He is the first president to say the word “transgender” in a speech. He got rid of DADT. He has refused to defend the hateful, unequal citizenship of DOMA. And after learning more about us queer folks, he changed his mind about same sex marriage for citizens of this country.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I believe in him as a president and as a leader. He has set a tone for this entire country that I am not to be less equal because of who I am or who I am married to.
And while I do understand that people are worried about economics, I only have this to say: economic decisions are always, also, moral ones, and this man has been stitching our social safety net for the four years he has been in office and has plans to make sure those stitches hold.
I’ll write more tomorrow about economics and their place in this election.
But I will say: if you believe that it is my citizenship and not my sexuality that should count, vote for Obama. If you believe that it is my humanity and not my gender that should count, vote for Obama. And if you believe that it is my patriotism, and my deep, deep love for a country where someone like me can live unafraid and proud of my love and my life, that matters, vote for Obama.
President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to expand rights, benefits, and resources for transgender people. From jobs and health care to veterans’ benefits and safer working, learning and traveling environments, the well-being of transgender Americans has been a priority of this Administration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK PIVOTAL STEPS TO ENSURE THAT TRANSGENDER AMERICANS HAVE STRONGER PROTECTIONS AGAINST HATE CRIMES AND DISCRIMINATION
On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, making it a federal crime to assault another individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the first time gender identity has been protected by federal law.
Obama Administration Officials have collaborated with transgender advocates to discuss strategies to prevent bullying and end gender-based violence.
The State Department now includes an evaluation of the state of LGBT citizens in its annual country reports, in order to better identify abuses, state-sanctioned homophobia and transphobia overseas.
PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK STEPS TO HELP MAKE SURE THAT PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENTS ARE SAFER FOR TRANSGENDER EMPLOYEES
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clarified that Title VII sex discrimination law covers transgender workers.
The Obama Administration ended the Social Security Administration’s gender “no-match” letters, helping to protect the privacy of transgender workers.
President Obama sent the first U.S. Executive Branch official to testify before Congress in support of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
President Obama banned employment discrimination based on gender identity in the federal government.
President Obama‘s Office of Personnel Management produced and distributed guidance to promote safer federal working environments for transgender employees.
PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS WORKED TO SAFEGUARD TRANSGENDER YOUTH FROM BULLYING AND HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS
President Obama worked with educators across the nation to prevent bullying and his Department of Education clarified that laws enforced by the department include protections against gender and sexual harassment of transgender students.
President Obama’s Secretary Of Education reaffirmed federal support of young people forming Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) under the Equal Access Act.
FROM VETERANS TO FAMILIES, PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS IMPROVED ACCESS TO RESPECTFUL, QUALITY HEALTH CARE FOR TRANSGENDER AMERICANS
The Department Of Health and Human Services confirmed that federal health care programs and those receiving federal funds are barred from discriminating against transgender people.
President Obama required all hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds to recognize a patient’s designated partner, both for hospital visitation and decision-making rights, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Department of Health and Human Services is collecting health data on LGBT populations in an effort to help researchers, policy makers, health care providers, and advocates identify and work to reduce health disparities in the community.
Under President Obama’s leadership, the Veterans Health Administration established policy to ensure comprehensive and respectful health care to the transgender and intersex Veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system or who are otherwise eligible for VA care.
The Veterans Health Administration now allows transgender veterans to update their medical records according to their gender identity.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced grant opportunities to address HIV health care quality specifically for transgender women of color, a demographic disproportionately limited by quality care.
The Affordable Care Act bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity in operating insurance exchanges.
THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES TO ADDRESS THE UNIQUE DISCRIMINATION FACED BY TRANSGENDER AMERICANS SEEKING SAFE, EQUAL HOUSING
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new anti-discrimination rules in federally funded housing prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
HUD’s Live Free fair housing education and outreach campaign specifically targeted the transgender community, to inform them of their resources and rights to report discrimination.
The Obama Administration has set a goal of ending youth homelessness, including LGBT youth homelessness, by 2020, and has awarded a $3.3 million grant to the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center to begin to address LGBT youth homelessness.
UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA’S LEADERSHIP, TRANSGENDER AMERICANS AND THEIR INTERNATIONAL LOVED ONES ARE NOW ALLOWED PASSPORTS AND IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS ACCORDING TO THEIR GENDER IDENTITY
The State Department now allows transgender Americans to update their passport gender markers without requiring invasive medical procedures.
The Obama Administration updated the nation’s immigration procedures to allow transgender people to update and record their gender on immigration documents without being required to undergo invasive medical procedures.
PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS EXEMPLIFIED ACROSS HIS ADMINISTRATION HIS UNPRECEDENTED COMMITMENT TO INCREASED VISIBILITY, DIGNITY, AND RESPECT FOR THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY
President Obama appointed three openly transgender people to serve in his administration, making him the first president ever to do so.
The U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan became the first U.S. Cabinet Secretary to address a transgender-specific community event.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted an historic resolution that seeks to give gays and lesbians rights equal to those enjoyed by heterosexuals. The resolution passed by a narrow margin and over the vigorous objections of African and Arab countries.
After a long debate, the critical vote was taken.
The overflow audience burst out into applause before the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, had a chance to announce the results of the vote. A giant video screen showed the final tally was 23 votes in favor of ending discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transsexual people, 19 against and three abstentions.
The Obama administration has been a staunch supporter of the resolution, and U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said the United States is thrilled by the outcome of what she called this simple but historic resolution.
Bold is mine, for emphasis. Oh yeah, that guy. Not only is he working for us on the domestic front, but he’s exporting some of our best ideas to the world. What a gift for Pride!
She has courage. She has guts. She has a spine. She has tenacity. She has fortitude. BUT, she does NOT have balls. The inner feminist in me, long hidden in my workaday world, has been getting more and more irritated all day by the continual reference to Speaker Pelosi’s non-existent testicles.
Let me be clear: ONE DOES NOT NEED TO BE MALE IN ORDER TO GET THINGS DONE IN WASHINGTON . . .
It took someone with a uterus to make this happen, to bring this home.
And, while I’m at it, can we please stop talking about what a good looking woman she is? How she looks so young, and vibrant, and HOT?
JESUS CHRIST! WHAT DOES A WOMAN HAVE TO DO TO BE JUDGED ON HER OWN MERITS?
This woman brings home one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in 45 years, and we talk about her HOTness? Are you shitting me?
No, they are not shitting you, ultrageek; a woman’s hotness is still, surely, far more important than her accomplishments. (& We wonder why we can’t get more women into office.)
My own view is that 2009 has been an extraordinarily successful year for Obama. Since this is currently a minority view and will prompt a chorus of “In The Tank!”, allow me to explain.
The substantive record is clear enough. Torture is ended, if Gitmo remains enormously difficult to close and rendition extremely hard to police. The unitary executive, claiming vast, dictatorial powers over American citizens, has been unwound. The legal inquiries that may well convict former Bush officials for war crimes are underway, and the trial of KSM will reveal the lawless sadism of the Cheney regime that did so much to sabotage our war on Jihadism. Military force against al Qaeda in Pakistan has been ratcheted up considerably, even at a civilian cost that remains morally troubling. The US has given notice that it intends to leave Afghanistan with a bang – a big surge, a shift in tactics, and a heavy batch of new troops. Iraq remains dodgy in the extreme, but at least March elections have been finally nailed down.
Domestically, the new president has rescued the banks in a bail-out that has come in at $200 billion under budget; the economy has shifted from a tailspin to stablilization and some prospect of job growth next year; the Dow is at 10,500 a level no one would have predicted this time last year. A stimulus package has helped undergird infrastructure and probably did more to advance non-carbon energy than anything that might have emerged from Copenhagen. Universal health insurance (with promised deficit reduction!) is imminent – a goal sought by Democrats (and Nixon) for decades, impossible under the centrist Clinton, but won finally by a black liberal president. More progress has been made in unraveling the war on drugs this past year than in living memory. The transformation of California into a state where pot is now more available than in Amsterdam is as remarkable as the fact that such new sanity has spread across the country and is at historic highs, so to speak, in the opinion polls. On civil rights, civil marriage came to the nation’s capital city, which has a 60 percent black population. If that doesn’t help reverse some of the gloom from Prop 8 and Maine, what would? And, yes, the unspeakable ban on HIV-positive foreigners was finally lifted, bringing the US back to the center of the global effort to fight AIDS as it should be.
Relations with Russia have improved immensely and may yield real gains in non-proliferation; Netanyahu has moved, however insincerely, toward a two-state solution; Iran’s coup regime remains far more vulnerable than a year ago, paralyzed in its diplomacy, terrified of its own people and constantly shaken by the ongoing revolution; Pakistan launched a major offensive against al Qaeda and the Taliban in its border area; global opinion of the US has been transformed; the Cairo speech and the Nobel acceptance speech helped explain exactly what Obama’s blend of ruthless realism for conflict-management truly means.