Karen Ocamb

Is Obama a sissy?

Filed By Karen Ocamb | October 11, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, gay rights, HRC, HRC gala dinner, joe solmonese, LGBT, Nobel Prize, president obama

When President Obama walked out onto the HRC stage tonight - I watched on C-SPAN - he received a thunderous reception and then hugged Joe Solomonese, I thought, "Well, there's a picture we're going to see forever."

Yes, it's great to have the President of the United States and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize speak to HRC - and presumably, through CSPAN and CNN - to anyone else in the country who might care about him speaking to us - mostly, I fear, the Religious Right professionals. And, yes, as the repeated standing ovations tonight indicated - we love this country and we want this president to succeed.

But Barack Obama has been under considerable fire from the LGBT community for the inertia with which his Administration has moved on LGBT rights and he needed to bring it tonight.

He didn't.

He gave Joe a hug and he delivered some great campaign speech-like lines - the best of which was "It is a priviledge to be here tonight to open for Lady Gaga....I've made it."

I laughed. Everyone laughed. It was a promise of a great speech of truth and compassion and movement on our rights.

But, like so much so far, it was a promise unfulfilled.

Truthfully, I'm a bit angry. Here is a constitutional scholar, a friend of Ted Kennedy's, a man of compassion and understanding who I really believe "gets" and likes us.

But what he doesn't get is that he has the bully pulpit and we need him to not only say he's on our side and will fight for us - but to actually do it!

I fear he's too stuck in the past with what happened to Bill Clinton in 1993 and Rahm Emmanuel is standing right there by his side confirming that fear.

How in the world can he have the gumption - the audacity - to speak so movingly about freedom and equality and then tell us it will come for us "one day." That he is "unwavering" in his commitment to us - but WE are the ones who need to fight for equality and justice, individual by individual. How can he talk about the values laid down in our founding documents, the values we all share as Americans, and NOT spelling out what he is doing, with a timeline, to make sure that we enjoy those rights, too. He knows there is discrimination against us, he feels our pain.

But not enough to say something that would help those fighting in Maine and Washington from having their right taken away - right now.

So what do we have when someone knows and even beautifully articulates the horrors of discrimination but does nothing to undo it? Someone -the most powerful man in the world - who talks to us about the urgency of ending legal discrimination - but apparently does not feel himself compelled to do everything in his power to act?

Ironically, in the old days, straights would call such a person a sissy.

Of course, we know that sissies have been known to fight back - that's what happened at Stonewall. So will calling President Obama a sissy for not fighting back against the discrimination he sees and has promised but failed yet to undo - will that irk him into action as it has with us so many times?

I hope so.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | October 11, 2009 10:07 AM

Wish it would motivate him, Karen, but it won't. He's not a sissy, he's a WILLING piss boy for the Pentagon. He apparently hasn't read the job description of "COMMANDER-in-Chief nor any biographies of the Harry Truman who had two things Obama seems to have been born without...or bartered away:


I have fought hard to resist saying this before, but after this pathetic excuse of a speech [he actually plugged the White House Easter Egg Hunt but NOT the marriage equality fights in Maine and Washington????]"

I told you so.

Lady Gaga meet Lord Gag Us With A Spoon.

Well,considering he hugged Joe, I don't hold out much hope, since Joe is as liable to sell anyone else down the river for his own personal gain as is the President.

We have all heard, over and over, the pretty but meaningless speeches this arch-politician makes, where he seems to promise the world but really promises nothing. Obama has just used this oppurtunity to try and firm up his queer support, so he can turn to more important things.

I am just going to be ready with an outfit that goes with tire tracks across it by the time ENDA comes around.

It's not using the "bully pulpit" to lobby for us when he's talking to us. It's using the "bully pulpit" to lobby for us when he addresses Congress, Saddleback church, or America at large. All he did here was a repeat a campaign speech we'd heard before to a crowd that was predisposed to support all the talking points. There's no advocacy there, fierce or otherwise. Just pandering.

He was speaking to "America at large:" see live coverage on CNN, headlines of NY Times, Fox News, wire stories from AP, etc.

Even with all its problems, the speech itself was historic. The first nationally televised presidential address on LGBT rights. One in which the sitting President of the United States said that Americans needed to open their minds on our issues. I think we need to acknowledge the progress this represents, then go right back to pushing for more.

Heather Wednesday | October 11, 2009 2:13 PM

I agree with Sam Ritchie - This was a historic speech. An entire half-hour dedicated to gay rights alone? Mentioning transgender and gender identity?

It had me crying. It was a recognition that I didn't think I'd ever have coming from such a position of authority. And then I come here and find everyone complaining about it.. In all honesty, it really couldn't have been better.

I have major respect for this man now more than ever.

President O'Bummer is not going to be doing anything.

I haven't watched Obama's speech word-for-word yet, but the parameters of its content are clear from the coverage I have read.

The speech was only a tiny bit more than what I expected it to be --- and my expectations where not high.

What is notable is this:

According to a recent HRC email, Obama said, "You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men and two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman."

He was indeed speaking to America at large, and implicit in those words is the corollary message that goes to NOM and the Religious Right and the rest of conservative America via CNN and Fox News: You will see the day when you will lose your fight to keep America frozen in time socially and religiously. You will not win at establishing an American Christian theocracy. Let us not miss that his words were the prophesy of a death-blow, that Birthers and Teabaggers across the continent will have a cow over those words ... that he will have to deal with the blowback, and that he deserves our support while dealing with this blowback.

I am disappointed that he is not more aggressive, but OTOH, I don't see any American politician of presidential stature that would serve us better.

So the glass is as it is so often, half-empty and half-full. He could move forward a mile, and instead he only moved 50 feet. So let's give him credit for the 50-foot gain, but continue to remind him that he isn't doing everything he could, and we know it.

I was very disappointed in Obama's speech. I don't think it would have been much more of a risk, politically, for him to have said, "Tonight, I call on Congress, on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid, to start making my vision for America a reality by passing ENDA and delivering it to my desk to be signed into law." Or to say, "Today, I signed an executive order telling the United States military to stop spending your tax dollars on investigating and discharging dedicated Americans who have volunteered to serve our Nation simply because of who they are. Our county cannot afford to lose those soldiers, sailors, air men and women and others. But, more importantly, I signed that Order because it is the right thing to do. And, now, it is time for Congress and the rest of America to do the right thing too. We can no longer stand on the sidelines and watch as Americans are denied the promise of equality that this great Nation has stood for for more than 200 years simply because of who they are, and who they love."

But, then, I've always been a dreamer. It's hard to maintain that hope, however, in the face of continued disappointment.

Is Obama an effeminate man -- often thought of as what we would consider trans today?

No. And saying so is rather simplistic and has shades of other things I'll not go into.

What he is, well, that's called a Politician. He is balancing what he can do and what he's willing to do on the fulcrum of keeping himself in position, first and foremost.

The man is absolutely ambitious -- rising exceedingly fast to become President of the United States -- arguably the most powerful office in the world.

Sissies don't do that. At least, not in this world in this time, in this day and this age.

Rising from a State Senator to the US Presidency in 11 years, he's has to be ambitious, has to be smart, and, ultimately, has to play the middle ground, the ground where there are few firm principles, but the words are pretty.

Even Hillary can't compare to this man, ultimately, and I don't say that lightly -- she's been inside the beltway a lot longer than he has, and is even more committed to such for different reasons.

Is he truly a fierce advocate? No. He's absolutely an advocate, but ferocity is lacking, because political ferocity is predicated on either prejudice or massive gains or principled stands, and what we *really* want from him, first and foremost, is for him to stand there and actually say something that means something.

So yes, he did indeed lie -- and he likely knows it, and he knows we won't call him on such because we *need* someone like that -- we desperately want someone to say that, and we will willingly deceive ourselves.

This is what we need him to do, ultimately: tell America to knock it the hell off. To stop denying us these things, to stop being cruel and inhumane to us.

To give us at the least civil unions that include kinship, regardless of the names. TO stop firing or avoid hiring us because we happen to look funny or act differently or love someone of the same sex.

Instead we get "i will do this", but no statement of when or how. We get "i believe this" but no statement on how or when.

And at 9 months, most of us would say "hey, that's cool, it's nine months, I can understand".

A lot of us would be cool if he at least tried, tried hard, and failed -- but that won't reach the mainstream.

I don't use flowery words. I do seem to, but for me, when I run for office, it will be about more than merely the words, it will be about the principles.

And that, more than anything, means I might have a few problems getting in. IT won't be that Im trans, it won't be that I'm a woman, it will be that 'm principled, and firm in my convictions, and if I don't position them in a way that meets the interests of those who are not LGBT, then I won't win.

I plan to win, just as e did, but once In, I will spend my capital.

And what we want is to see this man do that himself. He's reached the pinnacle -- he's the President of the United States. He will have impact on the social fabric of the US for decades.

We want him to spend that capital he's built p in those 11 years *now*.

Not merely for us -- and make no mistake, health care reform is absolutely an LGBT issue and very, very much a T issue.

The wars are an LGBT issue.

But both of them go outside the LGBT sphere as well -- they both go into the realm of where the majority of people are, the vast majority that is represented, and we are only a small part of the whole.

So, no, not a sissy.

Just a politician.

With all the failings that come of that...