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Topics In the News
 
The Advocate Endorses Obama
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 07/06/12
Last updated on: 07/06/12
 
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President Obama discusses his support for same-sex marriage with ABC News.

On July 6, 2011, in a beautifully written and carefully reasoned three-page editorial, America's most influential glbtq newsmagazine, The Advocate, has enthusiastically endorsed the re-election of President Barack Obama.

As Matthew Breen, editor of The Advocate, explains, "It's been quite some time since The Advocate endorsed a candidate. More often than endorse, we train a critical lens on our elected leaders." Nevertheless, he adds, "for the first time in decades, The Advocate has a candidate it can endorse. That candidate is Barack Obama."

In an editorial entitled "In Obama We Trust", Breen makes an unassailable case for the re-election of the President.

He begins by observing that "Never has the substantial progress in equal rights and treatment of LGBT people been more at risk than in this presidential contest. This election presents a choice between starkly opposing futures."

Declaring that "Barack Obama is a leader of undeniable accomplishment, vision, and integrity on LGBT rights," he notes that "His opponent Mitt Romney betrays equality on numerous issues and aligns himself with a faction of the Republican Party that does not include equality among its declared ideals."

Central to The Advocate's endorsement is the President's evolution on marriage equality. His "statement of May 9, unequivocally in favor of marriage equality, along with his record on LGBT rights," Breen writes, "has distinguished him for the ages and has made it clear that he is a transformational leader and our best choice for president."

The editorial also points out that "While he is our president at home, globally he's an icon, a symbol of the promise of America, of the promise of equality. Obama may be the most prominent man on the planet ever, given the pervasiveness of modern media and his anomalous and historic nature as the first black American president; he is surely the single most recognizable head of state on the globe. By virtue of his unique position, his endorsement of marriage equality is not merely rhetoric. His words constitute action. On the very face of it, his statement is enormous, and has the power to move millions in a way that a statement from no other person could have."

Breen also points out that "As a result of Obama's declaration . . . we will never again see a Democratic presidential nominee emerge from the primary system with an anti-equality stance. That position would appear too backward to have legitimacy in the 21st century. Any candidate of either party who rejects the full equality of LGBTs will be asked to account for his or her view that we are damaged or inferior, and to explain why rights should be afforded to some but not all American citizens."

After rehearsing the President's numerous accomplishments in furthering glbtq rights at home, including the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act, the lifting of the ban on HIV-positive green card applicants and visitors to the U.S., the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ending the Justice Department's defense of DOMA, and appointing numerous glbtq officials, Breen points to his accomplishments in furthering gay rights internationally.

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's moving and historic speech to an international audience of the U.N.'s human rights group in Geneva last December . . . made the Obama administration's perspective very clear, that LGBT rights are human rights. Whereas the George W. Bush administration made its anti-equality position clear to the world by rejecting the United Nations Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, under the Obama administration the U.S. signed the declaration."

Breen emphasizes the significance of symbolic gestures and inclusive words, pointing out "at every opportunity, Obama describes LGBTs as his brothers and sisters, full members of our society. In college commencement addresses, in his address to the NAACP, in an 'It Gets Better' video message to teenagers, at the National Prayer Breakfast, he has called for respect, dignity, and equality for LGBT people. At an address to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2011 the president said, 'No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.'"

Recalling the heartless silence of Ronald Reagan and the cynical wedge-issue politics of George W. Bush, Breen adds: "If we assume that words mean nothing, then we've forgotten the lesson of the damage done by a president who largely refused to utter the term AIDS during his administration, and how desperately we ached for him to acknowledge the humanity of those dying of the disease. We'd similarly do well not to forget the damage done by another president, who called for a federal constitutional amendment to discriminate against LGBT Americans, and the hateful bandwagon that noisily followed in its wake."

I could not agree more with Breen's eloquent editorial. I was critical of President Obama's approach to glbtq issues during his first two years in office, but after he finally learned the futility of attempting to appease unreasonable Republicans, he finally became the fierce advocate for gay rights that he promised he would be during the 2008 campaign.

It is crucial that he be re-elected.

On May 9, 2012, President Obama announces his evolution on the issue of marriage equality.

 
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