Setting the Agenda ... the Gay One 

COMMENTARY: Prior to the election of Barack Obama, the gay rights agenda risked becoming nothing more than a wish list. But after nearly 30 years during which no major piece of gay rights legislation has been passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, it is time to make a a real push for true equality. Our time at the back of the bus must end. Now. 

BY Lane Hudson

November 19 2008 12:00 AM ET

The election of
Barack Obama as president of the United States marks the
end of an unlikely journey to transform the American
political scene. In just over four years, Obama went
from an unknown Senate candidate to a master of
oratory. Now he's the most powerful man in the world. Along
the way, he vanquished one of the most formidable
political giants of modern politics: Hillary Clinton.

It remains to be
seen what change under Barack Obama will really mean.
But with a margin of victory for a presidential candidate
not seen in decades and an expanded Democratic
majority in Congress, we can bet that some measure of
change is assured.

Prior to his
election the gay rights agenda risked becoming nothing more
than a wish list. While gains made on the state level are
meaningful and serve to build momentum, they will
ultimately be only tokens of equality without securing
a majority on the Supreme Court to uphold the promise of
the words written by Thomas Jefferson that "all men are
created equal." Obama's election greatly increases the
likelihood of that happening.

In the meantime,
it's come to the point where we must see action by
Congress toward meeting the goals of our movement for
equality. The Human Rights Campaign Fund began in 1980
with the purpose of lobbying Congress for this very
reason. Since then, no major piece of legislation has been
passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the
president. On the contrary, we have seen a ban on gays
in the military and the Defense of Marriage Act
passed. Our only successful defensive maneuver was to
prevent the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Given our record,
a change in strategy is warranted. The "stay the
course" crowd's response to this is usually a "let's wait
our turn" attitude. Our time at the back of the bus
must end. Now.

There are tens of
thousands of married couples. Our people serve at the
highest levels of government. LGBT money is a major source
of funding for politics and our economy. Corporate
America treats us more equally than the laws of our
country, as do our children. Thus we are reminded on a
daily basis that prejudice and discrimination are not
inherent -- they are taught and regularly used as
weapons of fear.

Tags: Politics

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