I’m not gay. But like many in my generation and younger, I have friends who are. It pains me personally when I hear them talk about the challenges they face in society, especially when it comes to safety and economic discrimination.

If you’re black, chances are good you know what it’s like to not get that job or be passed over for a promotion just because of something you didn’t ask for and can’t change — your race. My GLBT friends have all told me that they were born as they are. My gay and lesbian friends also share similar stories of discrimination that sound all too familiar and the legal hurdles they face with loved ones often sound  daunting.

Whassup? From the NYTimes:

President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on Wednesday to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, administration officials said Tuesday evening, but he will stop short of pledging full health insurance coverage.

I’m also hearing that the benefits won’t include retirement either. Obama will speak personally tonight on the issue. So what’s the point, exactly? Dang, yo — healthcare and retirement (especially given the state of the economy) are the benefits that matter most. Is Obama really prepared to make a symbolic yet empty gesture to his supporters? That ain’t right.

Domestic partner benefits have been offered by some of America’s largest and most famous companies for years now without incident. The world managed to keep on turnin’. It’s time the U.S. government took another important step forward in dismantling institutional discrimination and we look to Obama for strong leadership here. He made some big campaign promises and if he doesn’t keep them on one aspect of civil rights, how you gonna expect him to care about the black community — how soon before he turns his back on other minority groups struggling to breathe free? Folks are right done hoping and are ready to get with the business of CHANGE.

Let’s hope he delivers more than empty gestures and high-sounding platitudes tonight. Both Lane Hudson and Pam’s House Blend have been on the case. More from them after the jump.

From Pam Spaulding:

How President Obama should be judged is on his actions regarding the specific promises he made to the community, not some limited plan the WH itself admitted is being tossed out there tonight to save a gay DNC fundraiser next week. Lane reminds us of those specific promises from last year

I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans….As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.

I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.

…The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it comes to prevention, we do not have to choose between values and science. While abstinence education should be part of any strategy, we also need to use common sense.

…We also need a president who’s willing to confront the stigma – too often tied to homophobia – that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

…I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together.

…Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.

Those are Obama’s words. The only prior statements about any of our issues since he took office have come out of the mouth of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and they have been insulting exercises in avoidance regarding DADT, and dodges or silence about marriage equality gains at the state level this year. And to top that off, the DOMA defense brief out of the Obama Department of Justice is nothing less than homophobic.

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