President Obama Let Slip An Opportunity For A More Inclusive We
by Belinda Dronkers-Laureta on May 11th, 2016

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

April 13, 2012

President Obama Let Slip An Opportunity For A More Inclusive We


As a rule, we avoid talking about politics. We learned the hard way that politics is a slippery subject and we don’t know enough about it to render decent analyses. Our sources aren’t all that reliable either: newspapers and the internet. The popular press reports political issues as if the subject is one-dimensional leaving it to the reader to piece all those single subject stories together. Pundits pontificate but have been proven wrong often enough to be not credible. And single-issue activists act as if theirs is the only subject of concern.

This is an election year and the volume of political reporting is increased several notches. It is difficult to ignore. We read what our political leaders do and what Republican candidates say. We think about what we read from the point of view that the only job a politician has is to be elected or re-elected and they will therefore say anything that will do that job. Politicians pander and that “etch-a-sketch” comment from Romney’s senior aide is not far from reality. And then we read that President Obama flip-flopped and did not sign the executive order that would have banned federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. It would have been a very small step, applying to just contractors awarded federal contracts, but he wouldn’t take it.

We Are Farther From Integration Than We Thought

What is our take on the president’s refusal to sign? We are deeply disappointed. We think President Obama is a politician who wants to be re-elected and so calculates that he will offend less people by his refusal than by his acceptance. We don’t believe it is cowardice or timidity or any of the other descriptors used by those who so ardently championed this executive order. Most opinion polls indicate that more and more people across more and more demographics agree that LGBT people should have equal rights. Both the Departments of Justice and Labor signaled their approval, but still, he would not sign.

Our disappointment stems from our interpretation that President Obama’s refusal to sign is an indicator of how far away we are from gaining the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. One of the more astute politicians of our time, President Obama judged this small concession to equal rights too risky to endorse; too many people would be offended, the probability for effective republican criticism too great.

It Doesn’t Feel Good Still Being On The Outside

      Our constitution starts with “We the people” and our Declaration of Independence contains the sentence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Columnist Byron Williams points out that our history may be viewed as a continuous struggle about who is “we?” It started out with a few white male adults who owned land. Over the centuries, after titanic struggles, other groups became included, but almost 225 years after our constitution was signed, LGBT people are not part of the “we.”

Our disappointment is that our first black president in whose election we gloried refused to make a small step, a very small step, to enlarge the “we” an inch closer the promise of America.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride


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