Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Gay Ambassador

President Barack Obama will nominate David Huebner to serve as our ambassador to Samoa and New Zealand. I guess the president wants to "show" the gay community he isn't entirely ignoring them before he speaks at a Human Rights Campaign event on Saturday evening.

Obama won't be the first president to nominate a gay American to an ambassadorial position. This political glass ceiling was broken when former President Bill Clinton nominated James Hormel to serve serve as our ambassador to Luxembourg. Mr. Obama's immediate predecessor nominated Michael E. Guest to serve as our ambassador to Romania. If the president wanted to break the glass ceiling he could do what German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a conservative no less, did by naming Guido Westerwelle of the Free Democrats to serve as her new vice chancellor and foreign minister.

Mr. Obama is of course taking some heat from the anti-gay right for nominating Kevin Jennings to Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools in the Department of Education, so he must be doing something right. Jennings is known for his work to make public school environments more livable for gay teenagers.

Nevertheless, the president won't have much to boast sbout when he speaks to the Human Rights Campaign activists. The Matthew Shephard Act, let alone the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, have yet to reach the president's desk. Add to that the president's decision to postpone any repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and a series of missteps starting with the invitation to let the anti-gay Reverend Rick Warren deliver the invocation and culminating in a "Defense of Marriage Act" brief which parroted the language used by religious right like U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)

At some point we are going to expect our president to deliver on his promises to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the misnamed "Defense of Marriage Act." We can settle for the president's signature on the Matthew Shepards Act, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The president cannot expect us to donate to his campaign or otherwise support him if he expects us to wait until his second term to pass anything that has any value to us.

I would hope that he would use his his speech to denounce the fear-mongering tactics being employed by those who are fighting to repeal Washington's domestic partnership law extension and Maine's inclusive marriage law. He could note that their latest ads marginalize and promote ostracism towards those teenagers who are gay and those who have same-sex parents. The president could also boost his standing with his gay constituents by calling on Congress to sending him a fully inclusive ENDA bill so he could sign it by the end of the year and recommit himself to the elimination of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

No comments: