Saturday, June 6, 2009

Open Forum: Did Obama Learn From Clinton's Mistakes?

When former president Bill Clinton came into office, he was considered a saint for the gay community. He was the first president to mention gays and lesbians in his inauguration and he promised to allow gays in the military. The LGBT community saw his election as a major shift to come in government policy towards sexual minorities.

What happened was far less than we would have expected, and the administration now gets looked back on as the era when gays were thrown under the bus. His promise of letting gays join the military was met with controversy and as a result he instituted the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. During that time period Hawaii was seen as the first state to likely legalize gay marriage. As a result under Clinton's watch the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and ensured that states did not have to accept other states marriage laws.

President Barack Obama has now come into office with what is seen as the most progressive list of issues relating to the LGBT community. His campaign promises include everything short of marriage equality. The LGBT community is angered that Obama has done little to nothing thus far to meet these campaign promises. Is Obama just another politician with empty promises, or did he learn from Clinton's mistake of acting too hastily, and wants to ensure that when he acts it will go through succesfully?


Queers United said...

I personally think that Obama will act in our favor and has learned from Clinton's mistakes. Obama has a lot on his plate now, and in the back of his mind also has to remember the 2012 election cycle. I truly believe he will be our president and make changes, I think most of them will come during his 2nd term. HRC has said they are working daily with the White House to pass the Matthew Shepard bill. I have faith in Obama, he seems genuine and he just has so much to deal with.

Unknown said...

I think he has and I like that he is being cautious in his actions...

R. Zeke Fread said...

There's a big differences between the Clinton and Obama's Presidencies. We're well aware the GOP are sore losers, they're bitter and beside themselves over both Clinton and Obama's elections. With our supposed Saint Clinton, they had him in their crosshairs from day one. Unfortunately, they also had control to block any legislation he put forth. Clinton also gave the GOP all the ammunition they needed to get the country all riled up and on their side.

Just what we all prayed for happened. After 8 years of Bush, the same ole GOP way of running the country, times changed. Most importantly so did Americans mindset, they were fed up with this. They wanted a leader and legislators who would take our country in a different direction. Obama's call for change,(inclusion, not exclusion), was heard loud and clear by Americans.

Now we look to Obama as our Patron Saint of GLBT equality. We finally dare to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, to get to the light, we must be "patient". Obama did take his first forward on behalf of inclusion of GLBT citizens. He became the first President in history to issue a proclamation which recognized June as GLBT pride month, acknowledged our civil rights movement, as well as contributions GLBT citizens make to the fabric of society. Some see this as a baby step, to little or not enough. However, I see it as a step forward in the right direction. Obama made promises to us, we, and I, expect him to keep them. We waited all these years for a President to acknowledge us a citizens worthy of equal benefits, protections and rights, now we have one. This itself is a major achievement in our struggle for equality. Let us not be so quick to condemn or alienate him for not moving as fast as we'd like. All politicians, Obama included, have to gain some political capitol to push their agenda's, if not they'll be writing checks they can't cash.

I wrote to President Obama to thank him for his proclamation, and as a reminder he took his first step forward in keeping his promises to our community. I wonder how many others did the same? You'd be surprised at the positive impact a thank you note can have. This also applies to our legislators who support us as well. You can be sure religious wrong fanatics don't hesitate to write them. We can ill afford to allow only their voices to be the ones heard by our lawmakers.

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