Last week, President Obama marked the beginning of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month with an executive proclamation, and this week he invited our very own Ian Palmquist to a White House reception in honor of the month.
While it is up for debate whether we’ve seen the “fierce advocate” we were promised on the campaign trail, President Obama has taken some concrete steps for LGBT rights, and Pride Month gives us a great chance to review them.
In his proclamation, President Obama pointed to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands the federal hate-crimes law to include provisions for sexual orientation and gender identity.
He also mentioned the elimination of the HIV entry ban and his renewal of the Ryan White CARE Act, which supports around 500,000 people with HIV/AIDS each year nationally. The CARE Act is especially important here in NC because it provides funding for our AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which is in some serious trouble.
President Obama released a presidential memorandum expanding the hospital visitation rights of LGBT patients, citing a policy that we, Equality NC, pushed for and got passed here in North Carolina. (Who said local politics can't make a difference?)
There’s still much more he can do on a national level. In the proclamation, he spoke in support of LGBT adoption rights, ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.
While the DADT repeal process has garnered allegations of stalling and the president has come out against full same-sex marriage rights, I'm hopeful that his presidency will continue the march toward equality.
Of course, he won’t be able to lead that particular parade by himself. You can contact your U.S. Senator (Republican Richard Burr at (202) 224-3154 and Democrat Kay Hagan at (202) 224-6342) and ask them to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal DADT, two issues currently on the agenda.