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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Obama the gay champion?

Now there’s a thing!

“The President of the United States yesterday issued a proclamation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Pride month,” announces Pink News.

“Barack Obama called on ‘Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity’ and ‘turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists’ ”, the online source says.

Bit of a change from his predecessor. There’s hope yet.

But when you read on you get this:

“I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans,” says the President. OK so far. But . . .

“These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and . . .” (my emphasis)

Hang on a minute! Since when did giving gay people civil unions while allowing marriage for straights amount to a “full spectrum” of equal rights?

1 comment:

Diesel B said...

Oh come on, Andy. Let's give the guy a break! Compared to his predecessor and the cautious and ineffectual Bill Clinton, Obama is remarkably and courageously progressive in a country where gay rights are seriously hampered by religious belief (much more so than in the UK or most of western Europe).

Personally, I quite like the distinction between heterosexual marriage and gay civil unions. They should have equal recognition with the same benefits and obligations, obviously, but civil unions have the advantage of not making gay unions looks like tacky ersatz parodies of heterosexual marriage (no blizzard of white tulle and confetti for me, thanks!).

On Valentine's day, I don't give my partner a huge padded card with a soppy looking bear clutching a heart of pink sequins (the heterosexual norm), I give him a card that is romantic in an understated masculine kind of way. Equal but different. Because we are different.

Gay unions differ, intrinsically, from heterosexual unions (gay rights activists often emphasise their egalitarian and democratic nature for a start), so let's have our own form of legally recognised union, with equal status.

Obama probably will disappoint once all the hoopla surrounding his election dies down, but with his radical statement of commitment to LGBT rights, as well as his recognition for secular humanists, he is still a breath of fresh air. Let's not look a gift horse so forensically in the mouth!