Tired of Talk: LGBTs Want Obama Action

Chicago activists will protest President's gala address

By Matt Bartosik
|  Friday, Oct 9, 2009  |  Updated 11:25 AM CDT
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President Obama's talked about being a friend to gays and lesbians, but so far that group is none too happy.

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Thousands of LGBT people will be heading to Washington, D.C., this weekend, chanting, "We're here, we're queer. Were your promises insincere?"

That's when President Obama will deliver the keynote address at the annual gala of the Human Rights Campaign—the country's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lobbying group and political action committee.

Several gay rights activists are grateful for this sign of support from the President.

"We are honored to share this night with President Obama, who has called upon our nation to embrace LGBT people as brothers and sisters," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in a statement.

But not everyone is so happy. In fact, a Chicago-based group has already announced that it will picket outside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C., where Obama will be speaking.

A group picketing a LGBT address? They must be religious fundamentalists or homophobic bigots, right?

Well ... no. The protestors are actually very pro-gay. They are the Gay Liberation Network.

The fact is, many in the gay and lesbian community are tired of waiting for Obama to fulfill his pre-election promises. Since early 2008, Obama advocated the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the policy prohibiting any person from openly disclosing his/her sexual orientation while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

But only three weeks after the election, Obama's advisers announced that, while the President was still dedicated to the cause, steps toward a repeal would have to be delayed until as late as 2010.

"Mr. Obama first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus and then present legislation to Congress," the advisers said, reports the Washington Times.

Now, more than 8 months into the Presidency and with a new Democratic supermajority, many LGBT people feel action is long overdue.

"The time for talking is over," said Andy Thayer, the GLN co-founder. "This President promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act , he promised to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, he promised to pass the pro-LGBT Employment Non-Discrimination Act and a whole host of other things. Instead, he's delivered on nothing while embracing anti-gay bigots Rick Warren and Donnie McClurkin. The last thing we need is more flowery rhetoric in front of rich, self-effacing gays and lesbians dressed up like penguins."

The protest is being held in conjunction with the gay rights march on Washington this Sunday. In solidarity, a rally calling for LGBT equality will be held in Daley Plaza on Sunday, October 11, at 1:00 p.m.

Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, heartily believes in equality for all.

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