On Tuesday evening, President Obama delivered his third State of the Union address before a packed House chamber containing the most powerful individuals in the country.
By most accounts–well, by most liberal accounts–the speech was a homerun. It included more than a few humdinger lines calling out the GOP on their “obstructionism” of the legislative process, focusing primarily on selling a plan to the American people to get the economy back on track.
But for many gay Americans, the address fell well short of the promises the President has made to fight for gay rights.
In fact, the word “gay” was said only once, lost in a laundry list of adjectives calling for unity rather than addressing a specific concern among the LGBT community, like.. oh, I don’t know… marriage equality?
Granted, the economy should be chief among the President’s priorities, right now. Despite a decreasing unemployment rate, 8.5 percent of job-seeking Americans are currently out of work.
Yet, how difficult would it have been to simply throw a short paragraph into the mix calling for the repeal of DOMA? It would have been remarkably easy to link it to another major legislative achievement of the President: the repeal of DADT.
I can almost hear the President saying it now in that golden cadence of his:
“Our men and women in uniform deserve the very best we have to offer. To deny our war heroes equal rights based on sexual orientation is to deny the sacrifice they make, each and every day, in the name of our freedom. That’s why, tonight, I propose, once and for all, that the Congress repeal DOMA and finally bring equal rights to all Americans, regardless of their sexual preference.”
It really would have been that simple. I can hear some of the President’s supporters, now: We can’t afford to take risks in an election year. We’ll take care of it after November. Etcetera.
Really? Because I don’t think the President can afford to lose support of the LGBT community, especially if the unemployment rate suddenly decides to tumble in the year ahead. Romney and Gingrich might not be the Eisenhowers of their day, but all it takes is a dissatisfied public to turn the tide. The President simply must have the LGBT community get out the vote.
It also strikes me as retrospectively disingenuous for Sec. Clinton to be authorized a fiery speech in support of global gay rights in the UN, knowing full well the President wasn’t planning to endorse marriage equality in the SOTU. I’d even say it’s troublesome.
Another first for the night: It marks the first time in years a Democratic President hasn’t spoken up in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Yes, I realize the First Lady invited two lesbians among her small group of guests. It was a wonderful gesture, and I’m certain it was sincere.
But when are gay Americans going to be invited to the table? That’s what I long to know.