Raise the bar, Mr. President

Cross-posted from Daily Kos.

By Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Each year, there is an opportunity for the president to set the tone for the coming year, to assert priorities. There are a number of things we, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, would like to hear President Obama talk about in the State of the Union speech (which is different than what we think he is likely to say). Next week’s speech is basically the unofficial kickoff of his re-election campaign and we call on him to raise the bar beyond where he set it in his first campaign when it comes to the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in his vision for this country.

In the next two years, the focus of the Obama administration and Congress will be on jobs and the economy. The pocketbooks of LGBT people are hurting like so many others and in some cases — like that of seniors, for example — we face a disproportionate economic burden compared to non-LGBT people because of the lack of federal recognition of our relationships or other forms of systemic discrimination. Among the many issues that remain critical for LGBT people and our families that we’d like to hear the president address are:

  • Stand firm in protecting the Affordable Care Act.
  • Call for movement forward on employment protections for LGBT people, particularly in light of the nation’s current unemployment crisis.
  • Restate his commitment to repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and come out in support of marriage equality.
  • Call on Congress to pass legislation such as the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act to grant benefits to partners of LGBT federal employees.
  • Call on Congress to pass federal anti-bullying legislation such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
  • Restate his promise not to cut Social Security benefits. He should call for not raising the retirement age and not changing the formula for calculating the guaranteed cost-of-living annual adjustment.
  • Call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation, including measures like the Uniting American Families Act and the DREAM Act.
  • Call for the passage of pay equity legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act and passage of paid sick-leave legislation that will support working people.

We will continue our work to push the Obama administration to make progress on the full range of issues that affect LGBT people and our families, and to make visible our lives and contributions to this society.