Am I Better Off? Post One
With the Republican and Democratic national conventions over and the final push from both sides before this November’s election, the question keeps coming up “Are you better off than you were four years ago.” As a progressive and Obama supporter, my gut reaction is to yell “yes!” without even thinking about it… but that isn’t really fair. It’s an appropriate question that gets asked before every major election. So I started thinking about it… am I better off? I decided to look at the Various aspects of my life to see.
As a Gay Man
In the past four years, a lot has been achieved in the struggle for equality for LGBT Americans. Personnaly, I have benefited from some of those changes directly:
- My then partner, Michael, needed major surgery in 2010 that kept him in the hospital for several days. Because of the official memo issued by President Obama in 2010, I was allowed be designated to make all medical decisions on Michael’s behalf. Before his surgery, I was allowed to go to the pre-op area and wait with him when while he was prepped for surgery. During his surgery, I was given updates by the staff, and after it was done, the surgeon came out and told me how it all went. I was allowed to go to the recovery room immediately after he woke up and was able to hold his hand and tell him how wonderfully he had done. I was able to stay with him in the room and check on him throughout the nights he was there. Would I have been able to do these things regardless of the memo? Maybe, but knowing that the hospital had to acknowledge me as Michael’s family gave me huge piece of mind.
- In March of 2012, Michael and I flew to NYC and got married – an amazing day that allowed me to look into the man I love’s eyes and say “my husband”… an indescribably good feeling!
- In 2011, the president directed the Department of Justice to stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act – a law specifically designed to keep gay and lesbian citizens at a “less than” status. With DOMA, legally married gay couples are denied over 1500 rights afforded straight married couples. The President’s decision was heralded by some and villified by others, but since then the law has been found unconstitutional by 5 separate federal courts – many of the judges on those panels appointed by conservatives. It was a bold move that is directly responsible for the rapid pace of change in both the polls and the courts. I am sure it will be struck down eventually, possibly by next spring – the appeals process has lead to 3 cases that may be heard by the Supreme Court in their next session this fall.
- As my husband is from Canada, the president’s decision to have ICE prioritize immigration cases, same-sex couples are now among the lowest priority. Since Michael is here legally on a student visa, this doesn’t affect us yet, but it gives us some piece of mind that if something does happen that jeopardizes his immigration status, we have time.
- Although not a member of the military nor a veteran, the repeal of the discriminatory law “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has made a huge difference in how gays and lesbians see themselves and how we are seen by others.
- The day the president came out as personally supporting marriage equality, I actually started crying. To have the most powerful leader in the world supporting my right to be married to the man I love was overwhelming.
- Hearing that the DNC had adopted marriage equality for the parties’ official, national platform was another reminder that equality was not only inevidable, but being actively pursued by an entire politiacl party. Official statements have far reaching consequences in shaping public opionion and policy – again, we are headed toward equality at a quicker pace than anyone could have imagined four years ago
With each step toward full equality, we can all, gay and straight, hold our heads a little bit higher. As a gay man, I am definitely better off now that I was at the end of the Bush administration.