This month I’ve invited Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News to share his thoughts with the GO community. Needless to say, Mark’s views most definitely mirror my own and I feel his message is of critical importance.
Giving The President-elect Breathing Room
It is anticipated that LGBT issues will be included in the batch of executive orders that President-elect Obama is expected to sign shortly after he is sworn in as the nation’s 44th president. Hopefully, this should put to rest the background chatter that these issues will be sidelined. This action on day one will show his strong support.
At the same time, our community should be wary of a repeat of the mistakes made during the opening months of the Clinton presidency. A recap: Bill Clinton campaigned on removing the ban on gays in the military. Due to pressure from our community, it was one of the first issues the new Clinton Administration undertook. Taking on a social issue created a right-wing backlash that in the end left us with a defeat and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—worse than where we started.
We must allow this president the opportunity to score enough points with Congress that he then can call on them to get this legislation through. At the same time, we must be realistic. Our issues at this time of crisis are not high on the agenda, and they should not be. The nation is in freefall—the economy, two wars, just to name a couple. If President Obama can take on those issues and have a modicum of success, he’ll then have the clout to push through an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Ryan White hate-crimes legislation and repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The political pundits have been having a field day telling their audiences that the problems Obama will have come from the left wing of his own party. That’s code for LGBT issues and reproductive choice, both of which they term “social issues.” Let’s not fall into that trap. After all, they’d like nothing more than to say that we put our agenda ahead of the country’s current major problems. It’s time for us to be pragmatic and give our president the room to maneuver.
Mark Segal is the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.