Wednesday, March 19, 2008
by Barack Obama
Never in the history of American presidential elections has the LGBT Community’s vote been so aggressively sought as during the 2008 race for the Oval Office. The following is an open letter from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to the LGBT community. For comparison of both Democratic candidates in regards to gay issues, please refer to Senator Clinton’s Open Letter to the LGBT Community, also found on this website. The following is Obama’s letter in its entirety.
An Open Letter 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.
March 18, 2008
[The Bilerico Project EDITOR'S NOTE:] Frequent guest blogger Mercedes Allen has written a six part history of transgender people for the Project that is running weekly on Tuesdays. A listing of the other sections is at the bottom of the post.
It is interesting that it really wasn't until after Stonewall, when the GLB and T communities started to define themselves, that marked divisions occurred among them. From the earliest ages, gender variance and same-sex love were seen as connected and congruous, even if one aspect manifested entirely without the other. Before the oppression of the Middle Ages, both were also seen as equally innate and equally respectable. The rifts that began in the early 1970s (albeit with some earlier genesis in The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis), deepening with third-wave feminism and other movements, would start to come closer together again as Western culture approached the new millennium, and as the various communities learned that they could distinguish themselves, and still learn to understand and respect each other. The trans community would remain outside the longest, not seeing any protective civil rights legislation pass until 1993. But as inclusion would spread, so would protections. . . .Read More
March 17, 2008
My response to "Gender: The Final Frontier" by Josh Kilmber-Purcell is a part of my weeklong obsessive dissection of Out magazine's transgender issue. When, from time to time, I do pick up Out, I always enjoy Kilmer-Purcell's column. He is engaging, witty and often I agree with his analysis. This month really isn't all that different.
I, of course, was a little skeptical when he opened by declaring himself "post-gender" and still think it was a regrettable way to start out his otherwise astute column. After declaring himself post-gender he says,
"From this day forward I'm not going to use the words masculine, feminine, or any of their derivations. They're meaningless, useless, and far too often meant as weapons rather than compliments."
To hear more about Kilmer-Purcell being post-gender and some of the really cool things he says in his column, follow me after the jump. Please?. . .Read More plus readers' Comments
18 March 2008
The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela
Directed by Olaf de Fleur Johannesson
The last thing filmdom needs is an exposé on a transsexual, especially since we’re still waiting for that feature-length investigation into heterosexuality. So it’s just as well that we never learn any amazing truth about Raquela in Olaf de Fleur Johannesson’s fantastic The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela: the “truth” would only cheapen a subject that usually devolves into movie-of-the-week topicality. Instead, Johannesson immerses us in the texture of an everyday existence.
Essentially playing herself, Raquela (Raquela Rios) pines for a life beyond her native Philippines, where transsexuals face a bleak future. She’s fed up with the prostitute life and has moved successfully into the world of internet porn. With some money saved, she gets a temporary visa to Iceland, bringing her closer to the city of her dreams, Paris. . . .Read More
by Judith Butler
Review by Kathy Butterworth
Mar 18th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 12)
Undoing Gender is a collection of recent essays from the feminist thinker Judith Butler. There are 12 articles in the book , including the introduction, ranging from the brief 'Quandaries of the Incest Taboo' (9 pages) to the more weighty 'The End of Sexual Difference? (30 pages). There is no obvious guiding principle at work in the organization of the articles which have a far reaching thematic range extending from transgender and intersex issues through psychoanalysis and arguments for recognition to the foolishly, according to Butler, isolationist stance of academic philosophy as a discipline in contemporary (American) universities. . . .Read More