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From the White House

Working toward equality for all.
by Blake Hayes

“Every single American—gay,  straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender—every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society.”

Well, that sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it? Especially when it comes from the leader of the free world, the President of the United States. The guy we helped secure another four years in office beginning this month.

Well, maybe not all of us did. Actually, 22 percent of LGBT voters wanted the other guy. Yes, almost one in four gay Americans voted for Mitt Romney. I’m still trying to figure that out.

The most common response from the gay Republican voters I’ve talked to is that “the gay thing is just one issue, and I’m not a one-issue voter.” So taxes are more important than your dignity and legal rights? Do you realize how many federal laws—tax, marriage, immigration, employment, healthcare—discriminate against LGBT Americans?

Or how about Republicans who say, “I think Romney will be better at improving the economy, and what good is being equal if you can’t get a job?” Well, what good is getting a job if you can get fired from it for being gay? (Yes, that’s still legal in Texas and in twenty-eight other states, according to the Human Rights Campaign.)

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse; Obama won, and will continue to make history for LGBT Americans whether you voted for him or not.

In the past four years, he has already done more to advance equality than all of his predecessors combined. I’m proud to have a president who’s on my side.

I’m proud to have a president who welcomed us into his home for the first LGBT Pride celebration ever held in the White House. And last year, the Pentagon held its first Pride event.

I’m proud to have a president who opened the military’s closet doors so our brave LGBT enlisted men and women can fight for our freedom with honesty and dignity.

I’m proud to have a president who stood with LGBT school kids against bullying, hosted the first White House conference to fight it, and even made
an “It Gets Better” video aimed at bullied kids (search on Obama at itgetsbetter.org).

I’m proud to have a president who has appointed more openly-LGBT officials—from executive-branch gigs to federal judges—than any other president in history.

I’m proud to have a president who has extended LGBT benefits and rights in the areas of federal employee healthcare and hospital visitation policy.

I’m proud to have a president who has pushed for LGBT equality on the international stage, from the U.N. to the first-ever U.S. strategy to combat LGBT human rights violations abroad.

I’m proud to have a president who supports my right to get married too, and has actively fought the federal Defense of Marriage Act that currently denies some 1,100 federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples who have legally married in the states that
allow it.

If you’re among the 22 percent of LGBT Romney supporters, you’re probably ready for a heavy dose of Fox News right about now.

But no matter how much you hate Obama’s other policies, you simply cannot dispute that he has made landmark achievements for gay rights in his first term.

And this month, President Obama begins his second term. So regardless of how disappointed you are that you couldn’t get rid of this socialist Kenyan who wants to take all your money, please treasure the fact that as gay Americans, we’ve got an ally in the most powerful seat in the world.

Of course, we still have a lot to accomplish: ending discrimination at work, winning marriage equality, lifting the discriminatory ban on gay blood donations, strengthening hate-crimes laws and prevention, helping gay families adopt children, closing the door on housing discrimination, improving outreach to LGBT youth in schools and on the streets (including LGBT history in school curricula), and so much more. It’s all part of making good on the president’s goal of LGBT equality “in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society.”

Obama can’t get it all done in the next four years, but I’m confident his final term will usher in more historical firsts for LGBT Americans. It’s an exciting time to be out and gay and living through another historic American civil rights movement.

So whether you voted for Obama or not, I hope that all of us—LGBT Americans and our straight allies—can rightly celebrate January 21 as the second inauguration of the first gay-rights president.

Blake Hayes is the mid-afternoon host at Mix 96.5 KHMX.

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Blake Hayes

Blake Hayes is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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