I've wanted to say something about this for weeks, but haven't found the right words. People talk about an "enthusiasm gap," and much of the gay community is angry at Obama for moving so slowly on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and on the repeal of DOMA. A lot of gay people are talking about sitting this mid-term election out. You must not do that!
Progress on some key issues has not happened as fast as we'd all hoped. But there has been genuine progress. And none of that progress, not one piece of it, would have come with a Republican administration. And if Republicans take either the House or the Senate because we sat the elecction out, any further progress on gay rights will come to a screeching halt. Please go vote. Vote with your rights in mind, and vote with your families in mind.
I can't say it well enough. Instead, listen to these words from John Berry, who is the highest ranking gay man in the Obama administration. An administration that has appointed over 150 gay and lesbian people, more than any other president in history, to high positions on his team.
"In under two years, President Obama and his record number of LGBT appointees have accomplished so much for LGBT Americans. His and Congress’s historic achievement of securing health care reform finally cements the most important protections for those in our community who need them most – especially those living with HIV and AIDS.
"Hospital visitation rights for all Americans, expanded benefits for the same-sex domestic partners of Federal workers, enactment of the hate crimes law, increased coverage for those living with HIV/AIDS, Federal support for LGBT community-based organizations, anti-bullying programs enacted in schools, support for our aging LGBT population, and so much more. These are real, concrete achievements that are saving and improving the lives of countless LGBT Americans right now.
"I realize that this subtle – but dramatic – change is hard to appreciate when full equality is in sight. It’s understandable. I’m not taking my eyes off the goal or asking you to. Indeed, the President is the first to say that change hasn’t come fast enough. But he has called on all of us to charge full speed ahead. The Tree of Liberty grows only by adding rings. From the Revolution to the Civil War, to women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement, and onward, our entire nation has been enriched by every added ring. Now is our time to complete our ring."
"All Administration officials, me included, are accountable to that goal; to the principles upon which our Republic was founded – liberty and justice for all. We will not rest until discriminatory laws like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act are ended once and for all. And because no one should be denied a job because of discrimination, a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act must be enacted as well.
"So hold us to account. Let us know when we’re right, be the wind in our sails when our momentum flags, and pull us back to the path when we go astray. But whatever you do, don’t turn away. Don’t give up. Don’t relent." - Office of Personnel Management director John Berry, the highest-ranking openly gay Obama appointee, in a coming issue of Philadelphia Gay News.