Americans, seven days remain to make up your mind on who you want to lead our country. For the LGBT community, the upcoming presidential election on November 6, 2012 is more important than ever. LGBT individuals and gay families want to preserve the positive changes created under the Obama Administration.
In honor of pre-election week, I am highlighting each year of President Obama’s presidency, focusing on how he has helped further gay rights. Allow me to take you back a bit, as we examine the first half of 2009.
January 20, 2009
Inauguration Day. Millions of American celebrated this historical day, as President Obama, the United States’ first African American president, was sworn into office. Many people cried, Obama’s infamous “A More Perfect Union” speech on March 18, 2008 touching the hearts of many Americans.
An oppressed group of people, ones who could not marry in most states, ones that have been killed over their sexual orientation, were trying to put faith in their new president. I am referring to LGBT Americans. Some doubt lingered, the gay community not specifically mentioned in Obama’s 2008 speech.
Would President Obama work to help us or would he just sit back and let us fend for themselves? Fortunately, President Obama stepped up to the plate, doing more for the LGBT community than any other president.
June 17, 2009
The summer of 2009 President Obama made his first LGBT move, as he backed LGBT federal employees. He instructed the federal government to grant the same benefits to same-sex domestic partners as provided to married heterosexual couples. Obama’s memorandum http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Memorandum-for-the-Heads-of-Executive-Departments-and-Agencies-on-Federal-Benefits-and-Non-Discrimination-6-17-09 also stated that federal workplaces could not discriminate against individuals based on factors unrelated to one’s job performance.
June 29, 2009
On June 29, 2009, President Obama held the first ever LGBT Pride Reception in the White House. Frank Kameny, a gay federal astronomer fired in 1965 for his sexual orientation, sat in the audience. Commended by Obama for his bravery, Kameny refuted the discriminatory practice, organizing a protest near the White House. Judy and Dennis Shepard, their son Matthew Shepard killed for being gay, also attended.
President Obama acknowledged the struggle of gay Americans, expressing his desire to end the “Defense of Marriage Act” and the “Don’t Act, Don’t Tell” policy that existed at the time, barring openly gay individuals from serving in the military.
Obama highlighted an important LGBT historical moment, known as the Stone Wall Riots. On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a “safe” gay bar in New York City. While bar patrons would usually succumb to the police officer’s wishes and leave that night customers stayed and fought for their rights.
The birth of a massive LGBT movement began, may years of gay oppression and discrimination uniting the LGBT community to work for gay equality. Annual gay pride celebrations in cities around the country today sprung from Stonewall.
“The truth is that when these folks protested at Stonewall 40 years ago no one could have imagined that you, or, for that matter, I would be standing here today, “ said President Obama to reception attendees, as stated on www.whitehouse.gov. “So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest. We must continue to do our part to make progress, step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind. And 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.”
The LGBT community now had hope and a president who had their back. President Obama made good on his future promises. Check out this page tomorrow to read about the changes President Obama implemented in the second half of 2009.
Do you remember these monumental LGBT moments? Please leave a comment below.