Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Leap of Faith

At yesterday's "controversial" Stonewall commemoration ceremony at the White House, President Obama told an audience of gay men and lesbians that he remained committed to overturning the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule and that by the time he leaves office, "I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration." While admitting this is a shortcut to John Aravosis' Shit List (love you, John!), I must confess something: I still believe our president. Yes, his brief presidential track record is shaky (See Warren, Rick; McClurkin, Donnie). But Barack Obama is one of the smartest people I've ever seen in my lifetime. And as such, my faith -- something I don't inherently possess for some supposed deity that "guides" everything around us -- somehow comes to the forefront and tells me that someone so smart would not allow things that are so unjust to go unfixed under his control.

Does this make me "starstruck" or "naive"? Perhaps. But it has only been six months and while I completely agree that full plate or not there's NEVER a "good" time for these kinds of wrongs to be righted, ultimately I do think he deserves to be judged as he suggested, “not by promises I’ve made but by the promises that my administration keeps.”

“I know that many in this room don’t believe progress has come fast enough, and I understand that,” Obama said. “It’s not for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half-century ago.

“We’ve been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.”

As demonstrated by my Prop 8 meltdown last year, my patience is wearing very thin these days, too. But as we look back on the 40 years since Stonewall, it's not unwise to be reminded just how much progress has been made in that time. As Hendrik Hertzberg notes this week in the New Yorker: In 1966, three years before Stonewall, Time, then the voice of middlebrow, middle-class respectability, published a long essay on “The Homosexual in America.” The magazine, while acknowledging that “homosexuals are present in every walk of life,” concluded that homosexuality is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. As such it deserves fairness, compassion, understanding and, when possible, treatment. But it deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste -- and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.

Obama concluded his remarks by saying, "I want you to know that in this task I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you."

I realize Obama is as shrewd a politician as he is smart a man. But that he later looked into the eyes of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach -- an Air Force officer who is facing expulsion proceedings because of being ratted out under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy -- and said, "We’re going to get this done," has me believing that he means what he says.

Call me naive, but maybe it's true what they say, ya gotta have faith in something ...

Read the president's complete remarks HERE.


Anonymous said...

I have faith too. Sure, I was upset by the DOMA brief and the seemingly simple action that could be taken to suspend DADT, but I also remember that the rabid-right is just waiting for some red meat.

I, for one, want significant change. But the realities of politics mean we could suffer huge set-backs that would stay in place for decades. Do you know how hard it is change the constitutional amendments that have already been passed?

Please people, do you really think anyone else is more progressive than Obama? Let's work to help him help us. Throwing tantrums & bashing each other is not helpful!

Anonymous said...

I guess that means you guys won't be joining us in the march on Washington this October.

Anonymous said...

Your naivety is nothing short of astounding given Obama's track record. Virtually every campaign promise has been violated. In the so called "stimulus" bill there were over 9,000 earmarks, he pledged he would never sign a bill which included even one. He has signed legislation to spend more money outside the federal budget in his first 60 days in office than George Bush spent on wars in eight years!

It was more than obvious that Obama's campaign promises regarding any and all gay rights were nothing more than lip service to help get him elected. Do you really think that he is going to do anything to upset his base of supporters more than they currently are? The pretentious blacks who constantly want more rights are vehemently opposed to the expansion of gay rights by a wide majority.

Now with health care, Obama said on camera late last week that "the government will tell the doctor and the patient when it is time to just take pain pills and not spend money on treatment." This was the final outrage. Anyone who wants some idiot bureaucrat managing their health care needs to move to another country. Personally, I have already removed all of my medical records from every doctors office I have been to over the past ten years. They are not going to be scanned into any medical database which will be the biggest source of ID theft and fraud this country has ever seen.

If the Senate passes Cap and Trade, look for your utilities, gasoline and all energy related taxes to soar. Then there is the VAT - value added tax that will be added onto every item for retail sale at the wholesale level including food.

You ain't seen nothin' yet. Obama is just getting warmed up. He is a Chicago thug, nothing more, nothing less. And I refuse to participate on any level with this maniac.

Unknown said...

Are you serious?!?!? Were you threatened by someone?!?! Did you drink some kool-aid?!!? Aside from Prop 8, What happened to your more recent anger over the DOMA brief!?!? A few words from Obama and you swoon?? And to Anonymous poster above, save your Jerry McGuire quote! How do we help him help us? We should sit quietly and wait for our turn for His attention? Don't protest? Don't "throw tantrums" when a legal brief compares us to pedophiles? No thanks!!

Anonymous said...

So-called "activists" who stage boycotts & marches do so at our peril. If the action flops, the movement is weakened. Not all gays are rich, especially the young, and DC is not cheap. Are rich older guys that fired up (outside of the NYC & SF crowd) I guess we'll see.

Soxophone Player said...

OK, I'll call you naive.

Anonymous said...

While I hope you are right, I unfortunately no longer share your (blind) faith in Obama.

The man that will look you in the eye and lie deserves less trust, in my opinion. He should be judged on his actions - not his rhetoric.

1. Failure to get legislation introduced to repeal DOMA or DADT despite campaign promises and historic majorities in Congress.

2. Discharging an average of more than one gay person from military service every day of his tenure as COMMANDER IN CHIEF.

3. Ignoring the letter from 70+ members of Congress requesting that he suspend the enforcement of the policy as he is authorized to do.

4. Falsely claiming he is bound to enforce all laws as written until Congress acts to repeal the law (Think moratoriums that have been instituted on the death penalty pending review of the fairness of the laws/procedures).

5. Filing a brief vigorously defending DOMA that includes comparisons of homosexual relationships to incest and child molestation.

4. Claiming that defending DOMA is required as long as it is "on the books" but taking no steps to get the obviously unconstitutional law "off the books."

5. Despite being made personally aware of the brief weeks ago and its vile content, Obama has failed to apologize for the comparisons in his many speeches, TV infomercials on ABC, or through his press secretary.

6. Despite being made personally aware of the vile content of the brief, Obama has failed to have the brief retracted or even amended.

Our community voted for Obama because he promised change; he promised action. We believed that he would stand up to the religious zealots. Republicans cannot be in more disarray. Now is the time. What happened to "Yes, we can?"

I am realizing Obama is only about "change we can believe in" - not change we can actually have...
So far, just rhetoric.

For those of you with patience and "faith" - remember both Clinton and GW Bush had majorities in Congress at the beginning of their terms, and both lost control of both houses.

Finally, our community seems to have given blind support to Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court. Why? I have not read anything in her record to warrant it. She is a Catholic woman of Hispanic heritage, who was originally appointed to the federal courts by the first Bush. These are not the typical demographics of our allies.

Kenneth, you have a post today about the Latina actress that was fired from a soap opera because her role was written to "go against stereotypes" and be a Latina woman supportive of gay rights.

What is in Sotomayor's background that make us comfortable that she will "go against sterotypes" and her religious/cultural dogma?

Her appointment scares me.

Anonymous said...

I think that voicing displeasure over the DOJ language is justified. I think that making sure that DOMA, DADT, The Matthew Shepard Act and other LGBT centered intiatives do not disappear from the POTUS's agenda is neceassay. On the other hand, the exteme that some of our friends and neighbors have gone to in almost condemning the Obama Administration is unfortunate. We are in the middle of a huge game changing situation economically as well having the first real chance to reform health care. These are things that affect everybody and they should take center stage. If we have to wait for year 2 to get have LGBT centered measures inacted but we get health care reform, a stablized economy, and a draw down in military forces in Iraq in year 1, that's a great deal for everybody.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth, I too have faith in our President. It can get frustrating when things take time but I would rather they take time and do them right so I'm willing to wait. I believe it will happen and I believe we will all be happy.