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President Obama continued his trend of including references to LGBT people in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, but he drew mixed reviews from community leaders.
Early in the one-hour speech, Obama told Congress and the national television audience, “It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.”
Later, talking about the military, he said, “We will ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families – gay and straight.”
When President Barack Obama announced Tuesday in Las Vegas that now is the time for “common-sense comprehensive immigration reform,” he echoed a crucial portion of the national LGBT Creating Change conference in Atlanta.
Now is the time for immigration reform and now is the time for LGBT people to accept that immigration reform is part of their movement as well, said numerous activists throughout the Creating Change conference, held Jan. 23-27 at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Atlanta. The 25th annual conference, which is held in a different city each year, drew more than 3,000 activists from across the country as well as China and Taiwan.
While President Obama didn’t speak publicly about LGBT families during his Jan. 29 speech on immigration reform, he included provisions for bi-national gay and lesbian couples in his framework for reform, as well as the principles of the DREAM Act — “legislation that provides a streamlined path to citizenship for young people who came to the country as children and are going to school or serving their country.”
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, addressed attendees of the 2013 Creating Change Conference in Atlanta on Friday, Jan. 25.
Carey's “State of the Movement” address highlighted recent victories in the equality movement while looking forward to the continuing battles in the fight for marriage, employment protections and immigration rights.
“The tables are turning,” Carey said. “This year, after losing 31 times at the ballot box — 31 times, but who's counting? —This year, we won big on marriage. We beat back marriage opponents in Minnesota and won marriage equality in Maine, Maryland and Washington state.”
A pretty important person stopped by — well, kind of — the Creating Change conference in downtown Atlanta on Friday to give more than 3,000 LGBT activists and allies words of encouragement as well as a thank them for their work to ensure equality for all.
That man was President Barack Obama, who sent a videotaped message to conference attendees — the first time a sitting president has addressed Creating Change, the largest LGBT conference in the country. He also congratulated The Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which hosts the conference, on its 40th anniversary.
This year the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force celebrates its 40th anniversary and its Creating Change Conference marks its silver anniversary this month in Atlanta. In the 2012 election, three states passed marriage equality laws, voters defeated an anti-gay amendment in another state and there are more openly gay members in Congress.
This is a good time to be part of the LGBT movement.
“We have a lot to celebrate this year and that’s not always been the case. Many years we’ve been licking our wounds,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the Task Force.