As we bid farewell to President and Mrs. Obama and the Bidens in a short couple of weeks, it is a time of reflection, assessment and gratitude on the progress we achieved through their leadership for our LGBTQ community.
As the first openly gay American to serve twice in a senior role in two White House administrations, the end of the Obama/Biden administration is especially poignant and a reflective time for me. My second tenure in the White House was as Vice President Biden’s director of management and senior adviser on LGBT and Hispanic issues and I had the privilege and honor to serve in a similar role for Vice President Al Gore.
I believe strongly that history will look back on the Obama/Biden administration as one that brought out the best of us as Americans. President and Mrs. Obama and the Bidens reminded us of what was best in humanity. They led our nation with grace, poise, principle and conviction. Although they were not able to address, correct nor improve every critical and vital issue facing our nation and our community, they were successful in implementing changes in policy and law that will improve the lives of millions of Americans for generations to come, including our LGBTQ community.
I would argue, and I am confident that their legacy will demonstrate, that President Obama and Vice President Biden positively impacted the LGBTQ community more than any other previous presidential administration in American history. With the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the passage of the Affordable Care Act, introduction of global initiatives on LGBTQ equality, enhanced respect and recognition of LGBTQ federal employees, eventual support of marriage equality, a record number of LGBTQ appointees and many other direct and indirect policies and initiatives, President Obama sent a loud and clear message to our community, the nation and the world that our LGBTQ community deserves respect, equality and dignity.
The president’s 2008 campaign message of hope was the underlying force of almost every initiative the Obama administration put forth and accomplished. It is that hope that must continue to be the driving force as our community unites in solidarity to protect and defend our advancements toward a more equal and just society. Undoubtedly, we have much work left to do on our march toward equality, but I encourage every member of our LGBTQ family to take a moment to reflect and express our gratitude for a job well done by President Obama and Vice President Biden. Let us make it our highest priority to stand united in an unprecedented, vocal and obvious manner and vow to never ever allow hatred, bigotry, division, ignorance or discrimination to reverse our progress.
As we start this new year and new administration, we owe it to President Obama and to ourselves to NEVER let our guard down, NEVER stop fighting for equality and to ALWAYS show our nation and the world that love not only trumps hate but it is at the core of our LGBTQ hearts and souls.
Moe Vela, Jr. is president and CEO of the Vela Group. He served as a senior adviser to Vice President Biden.