January 18, 2013 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Local activists reflect on Obama inauguration

The Washington Blade invited prominent LGBT activists in the D.C. area to share their personal thoughts about President Barack Obama’s second inauguration by answering this question:

“What is the significance of President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013, as you see it, and what are your hopes for his second term as president?”

 

Martin Garcia, John Klenert, Sterling Washington, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Martin Garcia, John Klenert and Sterling Washington (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The Latino GLBT History Project looks forward to the historic second inauguration of President Barack Obama, featuring the first-ever Latino and immigrant Inaugural Poet — Gay Cuban American Richard Blanco.

Obama’s re-election is an important turning point for America. Millions went to the polls last November knowing they were going to vote for a leader who believes in marriage equality and ordered his administration not to defend parts of DOMA, issued orders to keep DREAM Act students and foreign partners in bi-national same-sex relationships from being prioritized in deportations, and signed into law the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and hate crimes legislation.

His actions helped move public opinion in support of equality.

This inauguration is special for many of us who have worked hard for our civil rights advances that have materialized with this administration.   Mainstream America symbolically endorsed our movement by awarding a second term to a leader who is ready to sign into law Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a fully-inclusive Employee Non Discrimination Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act that invalidates DOMA.

From reauthorizing Ryan White Act to helping low-income HIV/AIDS patients access medication, to filming an “It Gets Better” video to prevent LGBT youth suicide, to hosting LGBT leaders at the White House every Pride Month, to appointing more than 250 LGBT Americans to his administration, this president has rightfully earned a spot in our LGBT history timeline. He and first lady Michelle Obama care about our families. LHP looks forward to the next four years.

David M. Pérez

President

Latino GLBT History Project

This weekend is a time to celebrate! Our country solidly re-elected a marriage-equality-do-ask-do-tell president of color and this is historic and good! Hurrah.

As we look to what Obama’s second term can bring, we look to how the stunning progress on our issues happened during the first term. And the answer is organizing. My hopes for the second term are high because I’m ‘high’ on our community’s sophisticated, disciplined, hard-working, creative, inclusive LGBTQ groups.

Our organizations are at the table – in states, in cities, in election strategy sessions, and in meetings at the White House. We are coalition partners with labor, with public action organizations, with religious organizations. We have a history with working with progressive groups on health care so as the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) gets implemented, we’ll be there representing our community’s needs.

Social Security – we’re there talking about the needs of our elders and the need to protect this successful, critical program. The economy – so important especially to lesbians (on average women still make less than men), and to the trans community, which has an unconscionable unemployment rate – a healthy economy that gives everyone a fair shot at a good job is critical to our community.

We as a community are positioned to have another amazing four years of progress, IF we continue to organize and to build coalitions and alliances.

So, dear queer community, re-up your memberships, join another organization or two or three, give time, give money. Seize. This. Moment.

Barbara Helmick

Lesbian feminist, Democratic activist

The inauguration is a chance to celebrate the re-election of the first black president of the United States. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve made while recognizing the serious challenges that lay ahead.

Barack Obama made history by publicly announcing his support for marriage equality, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and appointing a record number of openly LGBT administration officials.

President Obama’s victory, for me, meant that we are one giant step closer to realizing his vision of a more compassionate, generous and tolerant America. It provides us a chance to hold him accountable and gives Obama the opportunity to lead and continue pushing the envelope.

In Obama’s second term, I expect bold, visionary and transformative action.

People of color, women, youth & members of the LGBT community went from being the Rising American Electorate to THE electorate. We are committed to breaking down silos, being more proactive and staying grounded in our collective struggle for justice and equality.

Whether addressing the economy, immigration, gun violence or any other issue, we expect the president to not only be a supporter of our issues and communities, but to be a champion for them.

Gregory A. Cendana

Executive Director

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance-AFL-CIO

The inauguration is a time for LGBT Democrats to celebrate all the hard work they put into re-electing President Barack Obama. It gives us a chance to reflect on the significant impact that the election has on DC, the LGBT community and our entire country.

Electing then re-electing our nation’s first black president is historic itself, especially as we pay tribute to Martin Luther King’s dream of justice. To add to that a president who unquestionably supports LGBT equality marks a path toward a future that brings us all a little closer to Martin Luther King’s vision.

Personally, re-electing President Obama, sending six LGB identified lawmakers to Congress and electing our first United States senator, Tammy Baldwin, fills me with joy and hope for our country. It shows that conversations about our lives are much more meaningful than smear attacks by corporate Super PACs.

While Barack Obama is the most pro-equality president in history, there is still much to be done by this administration and Congress. President Obama’s second term gives voters and our community a chance to push us even further toward equality. We must hold the president accountable and encourage him to champion our issues like comprehensive immigration reform, and lead this country with the passion and vigor we first saw from him in 2008.

Martin Garcia

President

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club

What is so significant about this inauguration? In our nation’s history, certain second-term presidents confirm that a major cultural shift or realignment of the electorate has occurred — Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan and now Barack Obama can be added to that list as America transitions to a majority minority populace. (I am not saying that President Obama is in the same league as those mentioned. It is far too early to see how history judges him.)

There are three areas of second-term hopes: international, national and local. In the foreign arena, in no particular order: details of the Middle East wars, the Arab Spring, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries will need a steady long term, non-Fox approach to our mutual security. In the Far East, our Pacific attentions with China’s continued rise in military, space and economic strength and the challenges on how to deal successfully with a mad North Korea will keep both State and Defense Departments busy. In our own hemisphere, it is long overdue that we admit our 50-year approach to Cuba needs some serious rethinking.

National wishes include the successful implementation of the health care program, slow and steady economic growth, a national voter registration program, an immigration program that both parties can agree to without building embarrassing walls against our Mexican neighbors, acceptable gun control programs that keep both hunters and school children safe, ENDA passage, more than just one openly LGBT ambassador and/or Cabinet member and federal judges at all levels, DADT transgender inclusion, and a carefully managed DOD downsizing.

Locally, hope that the president will finally speak up about the lack of true congressional D.C. representation. We must noisily demand what is only our American birthright: representation in our legislative body. While dining out at our restaurants is certainly appreciated, it’s time for the White House to speak out forcefully on this unsettled civil rights issue.

So, good luck, Mr. President! May the next two to three years bring the successes that all Americans want and deserve.

John Klenert

Gay Democratic and D.C. voting rights advocate

It is very fitting that President Obama’s second inauguration falls on the national holiday celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Besides his historic place as the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief, President Obama is also the most pro-LGBT individual thus far to hold the nation’s highest office. I see clear correlations between the philosophy of Dr. King and President Obama’s commitment to fairness and equality for all Americans.

My hopes for his second term are that the nation will continue on the road to economic recovery, that the unemployment rate continues to fall, that the debt ceiling is raised enough to keep the nation from defaulting on its obligations, and that effective environmental and gun control measures are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. I would also like to see an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

Likewise, seeing the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act become the law of the land is high on my list. With the possibility of at least one Supreme Court justice retiring in the next four years, I hope the president can appoint another LGBT-supportive justice to the high court.

Sterling Washington

Director

Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • We sincerely regret having to enlighten Mr. Cendana, but Mr. Obama did not repeal DADT—Congress did. Whatever his contributions to that effort before the fact [and they ARE debatable], he left all his promises of enforcing equality under the law for LGB service members POST repeal on the floor of the room in which he signed the bill.

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