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Barack Obama's Letter to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community

Barack Obama for PresidentObama's campaign has released an "Open Letter to the LGBT Community" in which Obama reiterates his promises to eliminate discrimination, urge the states to treat same-sex couples with full equality, repeal DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Open Letter from Barack Obama to the LGBT community

I'm running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all - a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It's wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans.

Equality is a moral imperative. That's why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans. In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection to the workplace, housing, and places of public accommodation. In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples - whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage. Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) - a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.

The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it comes to prevention, we do not have to choose between values and science. While abstinence education should be part of any strategy, we also need to use common sense. We should have age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception. We should pass the JUSTICE Act to combat infection within our prison population. And we should lift the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. In addition, local governments can protect public health by distributing contraceptives.

We also need a president who's willing to confront the stigma - too often tied to homophobia - that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. I confronted this stigma directly in a speech to evangelicals at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, and will continue to speak out as president. That is where I stand on the major issues of the day. But having the right positions on the issues is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones - and that's what I've done throughout my career. I brought this message of inclusiveness to all of America in my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. I talked about the need to fight homophobia when I announced my candidacy for President, and I have been talking about LGBT equality to a number of groups during this campaign - from local LGBT activists to rural farmers to parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached.

Just as important, I have been listening to what all Americans have to say. I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together. It is difficult. It is challenging. And it is necessary.

Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.

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By Blogger Two Auntees, at 2/29/08 5:24 AM

Thank you Senator Obama for supporting equal right for ALL people, including those who identified with the LGBT communities. The members of the trans community must also fight the silent discrimination of employers who choose not to hire applicants who's trans identity is uncovered when employers do background investigations. We must fight all forms of discrimination everywhere it is found.

Sarah of South Georgia    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/29/08 10:32 AM

Senator Obama's words are very encouraging. It's hard, however, for me to get too excited or hopeful because I still remember a democratic candidate saying similar things in 1992, and then we got stuck with "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act. I envy those who are too young to remember.

I might rediscover my youthful hope and idealism if Sen. Obama's actions match his words. I know that he will need a cooperative Congress in order to get things done...but I hope he doesn't simply capitulate like the last democratic president did. I do plan to vote for Sen. Obama and hope for the best.

Seattle, WA    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/2/08 12:39 AM

Does he really support the LGBT rights and community?


What do you think?    

By Blogger Kevin E. Taylor, at 3/3/08 11:39 AM

Obamination: An Open Letter to Senator Obama
The Senator’s Unacceptable Stance on Marriage Equality

While the title might denote otherwise, this really is a (brotherly) love letter to Senator Barack Obama. It’s written in love. It’s intended with love; my love for the world, for the people in it and my love for change, which brings growth and fosters understanding. It’s a love letter for change.

I am an openly Christian, openly gay, black man who has been praying to God my entire life for a love that would be beyond relationship and the regular. When I was 13 years old, my mother asked me if I would ever get married and I told my mother that I would “as soon as they make it legal.” When the “civil unions” statute was recently passed in the state of New Jersey, my now 80 year old mother called me and said powerfully, “Baby, I think your husband is on the way. God answers prayers!” I got so happy to realize that my mother, with her Christian love and maternal adoration, only wants me to be happy.

Civil unions don’t make me happy. Domestic partnerships don’t make me happy. They also don’t make me safe. They don’t make me feel secure. They don’t give me access to the hospital in the midnight air if the nurse says no. They don’t give me the hope that I will be able to get my favorite singer Natalie Cole to sing Inseparable at a wedding ceremony one day soon. They surely don’t make me married. They don’t give me all of the rights and privileges and protections of any other American.

I really do like you Senator Obama, and I think you could be a glorious, viable, vicious vessel for change. I have been struggling between my radical need for change that you speak and the “we-can-do-better”ness of Senator Hillary Clinton. Somehow, maybe because of gender, maybe race, maybe your words of encouragement and embodiment, I am drawn to you and your audacious hope.

That is why, from the depths of my soul, your stance on marriage equality breaks my natural and spiritual heart.

Looking day after day and week after week into the eyes of a black man, born of a white woman and a black man, I was deeply and personally devastated when you took the old guard, status quo, “What else can we do?” stance on Marriage Equality. The thing that is most empowering about a strong leader is that even if they cannot do all things (only God can), it’s nice, it’s invigorating, it’s real to have someone say “I WILL DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO MAKE CHANGE!” I understand the lay of the land. I understand the mentality of America and the people within it, many of whom stand or speak against marriage equality and what they think it represents. I get that. I don’t accept that. I surely don’t expect it from a man who says “I AM CHANGE.”

Senator, you said some powerful, masterful, soul-shifting things when you spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention. In doing so, you squarely and quickly placed yourself in the position to be able to make changes and take chances. You passionately said to everyone from the world stage that “WE CAN DO BETTER.” So imagine my disappointment and chagrin when you kowtowed and walked right into the ookie-doke and said…“but.” But we can’t make change. But people will never go for it. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Even if America isn’t ready, I want to believe that you are ready and willing to stand for change. I want to believe that you would be willing to fight, even if the end result isn’t to my liking. At least I could say “Well, you tried and for that you have my thanks.” But I cannot.

At the end of the day, you had just come out and said that you had already made up your mind. You had done research and analysis and all of those trivial things that people say when they hunch their shoulders to say that I don’t know what else to do. For me, there is a very real reason that this stance is so morally unacceptable.

As the child of a biracial union, you know better of the many pains, pangs, and perils of being made to feel less than. You know what it feels like to have words hurled at you. You know what it feels like to have people say that you are not good enough and that your very existence is against good. In many states in the union, in many households in America, still people turn their noses up and their heads down to the joining of black and white, black and Hispanic or Asian or anything that blends or bleeds the races. People still say that it’s not about not liking certain people, but rather just about their beliefs. White people. Black people. Many people just say that it’s what they believe and that’s that. But the truth is that laws and leery lawmakers had it on the books in this country for decades, nay centuries, that it was unacceptable. Until as recent as the early 1970s, there was a state in this country that made the love between an African-American (or other colored person) and a white person against the law. But that love is real and it has real hopes and real dreams and real passion that gives birth to real people. One of those people are you, Mr. Senator.

According to many laws in the land, especially when you were born, you should not have ever been allowed to live, seek liberty or pursue happiness. But your parents fell in love and that love gave birth to a man who have given birth to an uprising in this country, an uprising that has people believing again, an uprising that has Oprah standing up and saying “He Is The One!” when she is normally reserved and removed from political conversations. I really do believe in the possibility of President Obama. I do. I really do.

But you don’t believe in me.

What do you do when you love someone and believe in someone and hope for someone and that someone says I don’t stand with you? That someone says I can’t fight for you?

I wrote this letter.

If you want to, post this on a website where people banter and debate. If you want to, call me crazy and a race-trader because I am a black man who is questioning a black man and that the airing of laundry—dirty or otherwise—isn’t something that we should do. But I have got to because you are poised to change minds and you can start here, given your singular and unique relationship to the issue of marriage equality in America. No one else, but a child born of a mixed marriage, could understand how the strain and stigma placed on people through laws and lack of understanding can shape or shift or shame the life you live.

I am tired of people trying to tell us that waiting is the only way. I don’t get a gay discount on my taxes. I don’t get a gay discount on my utilities or any other obligation that I have as a human being in America. I don’t expect any such discounts. I also don’t expect to be discounted.

Senator Barack Hussein Obama, I urge you today to pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, whichever is your preference, and search your heart after you read this letter. Imagine what it would have been like if your mother and your father had been terrorized and stigmatized and damned and discouraged and belittled in a country by laws and people and hatred that said that their love was invalid and that they didn’t have a right to be together. Oh, wait. This is America and that is how it was in the 1960s and yet they came together, in love and in commitment, if only for a while and it was that union and the power of that love that gave birth to you.

Here you stand, on the cusp of a new day and a season of change, with the potential and the power to say that no one—not man or woman, African-American or Caucasian or Asian or Latino or biracial, Christian or Jew or Muslim or non-believer—deserves to be treated or protected with anything less than the fullness of the law. Your parents stood in adversary. You say that you stand in audacity. I dare you to do better and stand firmer.

I know that change isn’t always easy, Mr. Obama, but I thought that was the reason that you declared that “hope is audacious.”

I hope you understand and I hope that you are listening.

Sincerely and Seriously,
Elder Kevin E. Taylor    

By Anonymous Katie, at 5/12/08 9:52 PM

I do appreciate the support of the LGBT community. However, I am skeptical. History has proven that separate but equal does not work. Why does senator Obama feel that this time around will be any different?

I am afraid I will never truly have equal rights as a gay member of society if the government continues to separate our rights as different than the rest of American public.    

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