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LGBT community questions future of gay rights

After the passage of Proposition 8 and Barack Obama’s inaugural address in January, the main question for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community now is what happens next?

“In the form of policies, that’s hard to say, it’s still early on,” said Steven Pham, a student assistant at the Cal State Long Beach LGBT Resource Center. “I think [Obama is] working towards it, in the sense that he acknowledged us.”

Some students like to think that Obama will bring change to America, yet still remain skeptical of the progression.

“He seems very honest,” said Matthew Jennings, a senior theater major. “He says a lot of great things, but at the end of the day, what is he going to do?”

Since the election, there has been a drop in LGBT activism, mostly because many civil rights issues have had to yield to the economic crisis.

“What kind of effects are gay rights going to have if our base is deteriorating?” said Anastasia Liebler, a sophomore psychology major. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on him and that makes me nervous.”

Liebler said that before issues in the LGBT community can be dealt with, the country’s economy must be stabilized.

“I’m still confident in his decisions and rationale,” she said.

Although many think Obama is advancing our nation, others think he’s going nowhere fast.

“This is early, but look what we’ve already seen,” said James Sauceda, director of the Multicultural Center. “Signs about him being progressive are disappointing.”

Sauceda said this is because of the lack of bipartisanship on the stimulus package Obama signed into law on Feb. 17. The Huffington Post reported that the stimulus failed to get a single Republican vote when it went through the House in late January.

Some students, like Virginia Clifford, find themselves in the middle.

“There was a lot of protest, but now both sides are putting [gay rights] on the backburner,” said Clifford, a senior math and English major. “I think it should be dealt with right now.”

In an interview with MTV in November 2008, Obama said, “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America is about.”

Despite his opposition to gay marriage, Obama also says that constitutions should expand liberties instead of contracting them.

“At the end of the day, all these issues come down to one, even if Obama wanted to do something about them, could he?” said Kevin Wallsten, who has a doctorate in political science.

Wallsten said that because Obama is no longer a senator, it is going to be harder for him to pass certain pieces of legislation while president.

Obama initiated a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military, which silences gay and lesbian soldiers.

According to the White House website that features Obama and Biden’s agenda, “the U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation.” An article that appeared in the Washington Times on Nov. 21, 2008 said it might take until 2010 before the repeal can be presented to Congress.

Many other initiatives on the White House website under the agenda for civil rights include supporting full civil unions (federal rights for LGBT couples), opposing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, expanding adoption rights and promoting AIDS prevention. All of which pertain to LGBT individuals, however some are still skeptical.

“Will it ever get down to gay issues or gay rights?” Sauceda said. “It’s hard to imagine that.”

4 Comments

  1. On a more local note, I wonder if the CSULB LGBT Community knows that the on campus El Pollo Loco is owned by WKS Restaurants, whose CEO, Roland Spongberg, was the largest individual contributor from Long Beach in support of Proposition 8.

  2. As a member of the LGBT community, I support Obama and the approach he is taking. If he doesn’t deal with the issues that we all are living with, like the economy and job loss, he will lose credibility from the start. That will not help us… He must establish his leadership and convince the country that he is a leader they want to follow. Once he does this, he can begin to push for the more controversial parts of his agenda.

    I know we are a community that is hurting. Every time I read about the AFA and the other groups that practice hate in the name of the One I model my life after, I feel a pain in my heart I cannot describe. But I know He is there for us and will eventually show all of them that there is not room for hate and Him in the human heart. This is the truth He taught and one all who follow Him, must know.

  3. guess what the Huffington Post wasn’t the only news source to say that the bill didn’t get one single Republican vote in the House it’s a matter of fact I don’t get why you’d attribute that to a shaky news source come on

  4. Kurt Johnson

    I am not sure that the economy and LGBT issues are so mutually exclusive. If leaders and advocates in the gay community are so worried about losing momentum and the support base then they need to take a lesson from past civil rights movements and incorporate the issues of the current crisis with the priorities of the movement. For example advancing the dissolution of the don’t ask don’t tell policy would go a long way in saving jobs from those being kicked out or pressured to leave the military as well as open up a completely new avenue of employment for young LGBT people looking for a career that has not been open to them in the past without a real compromise of their own values.

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