This post at Andrew Sullivan's blog is required reading:
I lived through eight years of the Clintons and then eight years of Bush. Through it all, gay people were treated at the federal level like embarrassments or impediments. With Clinton, we were the means to raise money. With Bush, we were the means to leverage votes by exploiting bigotry. Obama seemed in the campaign to promise something else.... But I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away.
Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).
And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada.
At roughly the same time Andrew was posting this blistering critique to his blog—please go read the whole thing—I was staring blankly into a camera at KING 5 waiting to go on MSNBC. I was asked to come on Andrea Mitchell's show to talk about the controversy surrounding Obama's invitation to give the commencement address at Notre Dame University this weekend. (The invite is controversial because Notre Dame is a Catholic university and Obama is pro-choice... just like a majority of American Catholics. And Obama supports stem-cell research... just like a majority of American Catholics. And a majority of American Catholics voted for Obama—so you can see why the invite is controversial.) I wasn't there to discuss the Obama's administration's abysmal record, thus far, on gay issues. But Andrea Mitchell asked and I did my best to tell:
If I had known that Mitchell was going to ask me about this I would've been better prepared. But if I had known the question was coming I'm afraid I would've had to contradict my good friend Andrew. Fact is, Obama has "acknowledge [the] breakthroughs in civil rights" that we've seen in Iowa and other states. And here it is:
See? Obama has acknowledged the breakthroughs in civil rights for gay Americans! He told a joke about it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner this weekend. (You were there, Andrew, didn't you catch it?) Barack Obama condescended to use marriage equality as a punch line; he made, essentially, a Chuck & Larry joke about two straight dudes—Obama and Axelrod—running off to Iowa to "make it official" with the queers and their "partners." And that's hilarious, you see, because Obama and Axelrod aren't actually homos! So they don't need to go to Iowa to make it official! They can get married—to women—in all fifty states! HA!
The more I think about the joke Obama told at the WHCD the more ticked off I get. We're witnessing rapid and historic progress in the fight for gay equality and Barack Obama, who campaigned on our issues and described himself as a "fierce advocate" of gay and lesbian equality, hasn't acknowledged the breakthroughs in Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in a setting or a with comments that are in any way equal to the significance of this historic moment. The best he can do—all he's willing to do—is toss off an Adam-Sandler-level joke.
So here's what I would've said if I'd been prepared for the question: Our lives, our families, and our rights are not a joke, Mr. President. The discrimination faced by gay people—whether coupled and single—is distressingly real and persists even for same-sex couples in Iowa and other states where gay marriage is legal. Stop fucking around and start delivering on your campaign promises to us, to our families, and to our children.