opinion

COLUMN: Obama's LGBT record



The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a joint statement last Friday to protect transgender students in public schools.

The statement said, “Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The guidance makes clear both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.”

This gesture of support toward the transgender community is the newest effort the Obama administration has undertaken to protect the LGBT community.

Since the president took office in 2009, we’ve seen historic strides made toward LGBT equality. However, Obama hasn’t extended the same concern toward LGBT immigrants.

According to the White House, some of the legislative acts the administration has passed for the LGBT community include repealing the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, which prevented gay, lesbian and bisexual service members from serving openly in the military.

The administration also passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which added sexual orientation and gender identity to the nation’s federal hate crimes law.

Additionally, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden became the first sitting president and vice president to publicly support marriage equality.

This isn’t to say the administration has been universally welcomed by the LGBT community with flowers. The New York Times reported last year the president was heckled at an event commemorating LGBT Pride Month by an activist who wanted the president to address the rights of LGBT immigrants in the United States.

The activist, Jennicet Gutiérrez, called for the president to “release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention and stop all deportations.”

Her protest brought light to an issue affecting the LGBT community that is often under reported — that of our immigrants who identify as LGBT.

In an editorial for the Washington Blade, Gutiérrez wrote “transgender immigrants make up one out of every 500 people in detention, but (they) account for one out of five confirmed sexual abuse cases in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.”

Though the administration has made great strides toward equality, this issue should be one the administration should address in the time it has left before a new president is sworn in.

It is a beautiful sight to see our nation’s leader pave the way in many issues affecting the community. It wasn’t long ago former President George W. Bush called for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage in 2004, for example, according to OnTheIssues.org.

When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide last year, the White House celebrated with rainbow colors shining brightly in front of it. It’s tough to imagine that sight happening under any other president of our country.

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