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Question from a friend

An old friend posed the following question to me the other day, I thought I'd share it ( and my response) here. 

How do you feel about what Obama said/did about same sex unions today?  Good/bad/indifferent/too late?  And speaking of Obama. Will you talk to me about him?  Why the vote/support? Even to the point of attending a rally. Was it a “vote for change” or a vote against 8 more years? Your thoughts now?


How do I feel about Obama- well, to say I'm disappointed is an understatement.
A little background- I was a lifelong- and at times card-carrying Republican.  Voted for GW Bush both times, his dad, Dole, and every other  presidential candidate that party put forth ( good or bad).  At the state level, the Republicans had controlled the state house and the legislature for the last 16 years before our current governor took office, and they have taken our state to new lows.   High unemployment, terrible policies re: our cities and just a host of ways too numerous to name.  In short, I feel like they ran our state into the ground and Republican lobbyists were the only group they really paid attention to.  There has been litigation going on for decades trying to fix the schools and all the Republicans have done, other than put up some money for infrastructure is cover their butt long enough to get the lawsuits off their backs.  The child that was the representative plaintiff is now probably 25-30 years old.  Ridiculous.
So I have been an unhappy Republican for a while and that combined with my own “transition” made me feel very uncomfortable with the Republican party.  Here in Ohio it is very far right conservative and synomomous with the “religious right” and I certainly knew I had no place at that table anymore.  I admired McCain the war hero but had very serious doubts about his ability to be the kind of leader we need right now.  The “bomb Iran” statements and the like, I just didn't think he was the face we needed to show the world.  Then he picked Palin, while admittedly she has charisma, she clearly lacks the policy “chops” and the depth of understanding that is necessary for a national candidate. (  she clearly was unprepared and the learning curve was much too steep for her to be ready for all that was thrown at her in the short time she was on the national stage)
I wasn't sure I wanted to join the Democratic party- I had never voted democrat before the presidential primary this time- and I am not sure who I even voted for then- HRC or Obama. 
I had serious reservations at first re: Obama as well.  I didn't like HRC and had serious doubts about her ( could she be the president or would it be another Bill Clinton shadow term?, Would anyone take her seriously in her own right? , All the secrecy/ reluctance to turn over documents and have secret meetings during her husband's administration, I just didn't really trust her. and in the final analysis- she ran a HORRIBLE campaign.  Think about it- she was the presumptive nominee early on, had the most money, and had momentum, yet she managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory just by the sheer ineptitude of her organization.  I have no doubt that she is a smart capable woman, but as someone in the media pointed out- HRC is a word processor and Obama is a poet-  HRC knows the words to say and what needs to be done but she could not inspire the audience and motivate them to take action the way Obama could. 
So as time went on I was more and more seeing Obama as the person who was right for this time.  He was the best organized candidate and was able to convey his message and translate the message into action and $ and momentum.
I actually worked for the campaign- not until very late, but I did canvass the Sunday afternoon before the election and on election day for a few hours. That's how I got the tickets to be on the field at that rally.  It was a great moment and I was very glad to have Phil with me for it.
As far as the events of the last few days, well I have to say I am of the opinion it is too little too late.  It would not be so bad except he had raised our expectations so high with his words during the campaign.  Not obliquely, but directly promising action on Don't ask, Don't Tell and saying that would be a top priority upon taking office.  Now that he is there, we get a tap dance from his press secretary saying he is waiting for a “legislative vehicle” – that is BS. He could issue an executive order right now, a stop loss order so that this policy would be stopped in its tracks until there was legislative action. but he won't.  We are losing service members every day- Arab linguists, pilots, people we've invested millions in- because of DADT.  Then to add insult to injury, his justice department puts out a brief on the Defense of marriage act that would've made Jerry Falwell proud, likening our relationships to incest.  I get it that he is charged with defending our laws in court- but he defended that one , one that he said he opposed during the campaign and said yesterday he wants overturned- a little too vigorously.
He made big promises, and he got big $ and lots of lgbt campaign workers.  We expected more from him and he is not coming through.  (not that I worked a lot- or gave a lot, but I did give and many others gave and worked more than I)  There is a big LGBT fundraiser next Thursday where the vice president is supposed to be the guest of honor and lots of people are canceling out- not going and closing their wallets.  I think it is the right thing.  If you look at the civil rights movement in the 60's , MLK and others often had to call the politicians out before they would act.  Well, this is what is happening and what needs to happen now. 
I know lots of conservatives think that it is so radical and crazy, but in the final analysis, it is just basic fairness.  If you don't extend benefits to LGBT partners, the government pays in other ways. In other social services, when we become homeless because our partners family ( often estranged) are the legal  “next of kin” and will take what should be rightfully the other partners inheritance.  If we didn't have to spend our money funding two retirements ( we can't share or collect on each others) and going without or having to pay for two health insurance plans (and risking our financial health as a couple in the process).  So if we could educate folks so that they understand that not allowing us to have these benefits doesn't save them any money, and our families don't cease to exist because we aren't recognized, then I think we will have a much better chance of succeeding. I think we are very close to critical mass on these issues and I had hoped that Obama would lead in this area, but I think the community will go forward whether he chooses to lead or not.
I had hoped for much more from Obama,but in the end, he is just a man, and just a politician.  If we are going to change things, we are going to have to do it ourselves.

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