What a day it has been!! Today, an adult took over the White House, and the angry toddler and his abusive uncle, Dicky, have gone far, far away....and I hope we never have to hear from them again.
The Inauguration team, which took responsibility for silencing Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer on Sunday, did a make-good today. Apparently, Bishop Robinson's prayer was replayed on the jumbotrons, so the millions (and did you see how many millions were there?!) could hear it. Rick Warren's prayer was fine....but I noted that he couldn't resist that urge to bring in Jesus at the end, and then finished on the Lord's prayer...again, establishing his Christian cred while alienating everyone else. Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was amazing!! What an awesome experience it must have been for him to be offering words to God to shower down on this nation and this new president.
And then there is, of course, Barack Obama...now President, and a man who seems all too aware of the challenges ahead. And, at the same time, he appears ready to look to all of us to join in the effort to rebuild our country which has been raided by the greedy for personal gain.
As a Christian in America, I remain hopeful that with God nothing is impossible. Note, I said "with God" not "with Barack Obama". He is still a man. And I very much appreciated in his speech today that he included all faiths....even those who are "non-believers"...to take part in righting the conscience of our country and getting to work. And I am hopeful that he can help heal some of the rifts the previous administration created in its cowboy Christian zeal to bring on "the end times".
And, as a lesbian in America, I am heartened that on the White House website under the heading "Civil Rights", there is a laundry list of "to dos" for the gay community. I think it's great, and we'll see how far we get with "the list". But at least there is a list! And for that, this Christian lesbian says, "Thanks be to God!"
Support for the LGBT Community
"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007
Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.