Obama is giving his Federal Employees as much as he's allowed to, but he's restricted by the damn DOMA (which he defended uglily last week)!
OK, I totally agree with David Link in his Inde. Gay Forum column, "Promises are Made of Air," when he says "We have every right to be furious at the President, but it’s important that we be furious for the right reasons." Here's the deal with the Federal Employee benefits memorandum--I wish it was an Executive Order, but honestly, its not a big slap in the face that its a memo instead. I wish that it offered health and retirement benefits--which it certainly will not because of DOMA--however, Obama is going to give the same-sex partners of his Federal Employees all of the benefits that he can within his restrictions, and its more than just relocation expenses, but also includes access to Long Term Care Insurance, family medical leave, access to Federal medical facilities abroad, and MOST importantly, he is ADDING GENDER IDENTITY TO FEDERAL NON-DISCRIMINATION HIRING POLICY!
He is NOT undoing the damage he's done with his harmful and hurtful DOJ DOMA brief. He is NOT making a compelling argument for dragging his feet on curtailing military firing under DADT. But he IS doing a lot in THIS arena--Federal benefits. If you're a Federal employee this IS a big deal. While I say: don't just accept token presents and lip service, its also important NOT to look a gift-horse in the mouth! This IS a step forward--baby step as it may be--and it needs to be seen like that. We're so damn angry at him that there's nothing he's going to be able to do for quite some time that is going to make us feel more comfortable and less betrayed, BUT we need to ALSO be rational, here. Any OTHER president offering us this "token" as it were, would have been SHOWERED with praise. We need to be fair. Direct your anger in the RIGHT direction--the specific acts AGAINST our community by this administration; and there are plenty to choose from. DO NOT direct your anger at one of the POSITIVE steps. That's not only stupid, its counterproductive and wasteful. We need that anger, and we need it channeled in the right way. We need to turn our anger into action--grass roots action around the nation to organize, fundraise and mobilize to stop anti-gay legislation state to state, and to educate the Administration on what its really getting WRONG so that it can do MORE right. THIS IS RIGHT. Its not ENOUGH, but its RIGHT.
Its time we act like adults, admit it when someone has done something right, and keep working with them to see more gains. As a teacher, I often had students that were--more often than not--out of control and obnoxious. Then there'd be a good day. As a human, its easy to fall into the trap of cynicism and say "You think THAT makes up for all of the misery you've brought since September?" But NOONE functions under that sort of unrealistic pressure to perform. If you react negatively to a student who does something positive, they have NO motivation to do anything else positive. Whatever they do, they get a negative reaction from you, so why bother? Like the Middle Schooler, Obama is learning from us. He's not an EXPERT in the complexities of the needs of the LGBT community--we need to teach him what we're expecting him to know. He will have NO motivation to learn, however, if the one time he does something right--albeit it lacks the panache we're looking for--we continue to slap him on the hand for TRYING. Let's give him his applause, and go back to saying, "Good job on this one... now what are we going to do about DADT?" and so on.