Contributor: Frank Bua via the Huffington Post
Sweeping rhetoric aside, it wasn’t love at first sight. As a social studies teacher, I was delighted by the possibilities of hope and change, but I found something a little opportunistic about a relatively young politician cutting the political line and surrounding himself with Kennedys. I was skeptical to say the least.
But you were persistent. Your intellect, humor and charm warmed me, and you clearly had an LGBT game plan, one that I recognized long before your “evolution” happened publicly. In June 2009, you issued a directive on same-sex domestic partner benefits and opened the door for the State Department to extend a full range of benefits to same-sex domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service. In October of that same year, you signed the long-stalled Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. In December, 2010, backed by studies conducted by the Pentagon, you showed a willingness to spend significant political capital by repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in December 2010. I admired your long game — methodically chipping away at the wall of homophobic policies — and found you to be the savviest of quarterbacks. I was smitten.
Your administration sought input from national LGBT non-profits like Treatment Action Group and Family Equality Council, organizations on whose Boards of Directors I serve, to ensure as part of the Affordable Care Act that insurers could no longer turn someone away just because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Obamacare also made it easier for people living with HIV and AIDS to obtain private health insurance and Medicaid. Most notably, you developed and released the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. Your administration changed passport and student loan application forms to become more gender inclusive. Next time I fill out my children’s governmental forms, I will not be forced to complete a box labeled “mother” like I did last time. Now, families like my own are allowed to re-enter the country as the unit that we are. These gestures may have gone unnoticed by the general public, but not by those of us who for decades have felt the simple desire to be treated like everybody else. (more...)
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