This election season, it seems there are more apathetic and disillusioned voters than there should be. Those who shrug at the idea of casting a ballot are often fed up with the two primary parties, saying there’s no real difference between the Democrats and Republicans.
For those in the LGBT community, this couldn’t be a more dangerous mindset.
Incumbent Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney are poles apart on LGBT issues. As the president who has made more advances for LGBT citizens than any before him, Obama doesn’t just tolerate our community — he wholeheartedly embraces it.
If you haven’t registered yet, the deadline’s Oct. 9. And if you’re an LGBT voter on the fence, here are nine reasons to get yourself in gear.
1. He asked, he told. He oversaw the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), so that gays can now serve openly in the military.
2. He evolved. Marriage equality hasn’t always been an easy issue for Obama, but he has “evolved” on the issue since taking office. First he endorsed the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman. Then this spring he historically came out in complete support of gay marriage — the only sitting president to do so. His support in turn led to the inclusion of gay marriage in the Democratic Party’s official platform.
3. He bullied right back. He tackled bullying in schools — especially bullying of LGBT youth — by hosting the first-ever White House conference on the matter. He recorded an “It Gets Better” video, and created the Inter-Agency Task Force on Bullying.
4. He Obamacares. He’s made an impact on health care rights, expanding certain benefits, hospital visitations, and medical decision-making for LGBT patients and their partners.
5. He’s good to his employees. He ordered the extension of certain key benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
6. He’s keeping up the fight against HIV/AIDS. This past summer, he announced nearly $80 million in additional funding for HIV/AIDS care.
7. He takes hate crime seriously. In October 2010, Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding the federal hate-crime law to include those motivated by perceived gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.
8. He remembers the “T” in “LGBT.” Obama has helped advance the rights of transgender individuals, allowing them to receive true gender passports without surgery and promoting safer work environments.
9. He gets better. Mitt gets worse. Where Obama’s support of LGBT interests has continued to expand, Romney’s has gone in reverse. During his U.S. Senate race in 1994, he vowed he’d be better for gay rights than Ted Kennedy, and he told the Log Cabin Republicans that he would support ENDA, the federal act that would bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Since then he has come out in opposition not just to same-sex marriage but civil unions; he supports not just DOMA but a federal amendment that would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman; and he has stepped away from his support of ENDA. His epic flip-flop on gay rights has inspired its own website, which, in a twist on “It Gets Better,” is called “Mitt Gets Worse.”
And here are nine more reasons: The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. The next president will very likely have the opportunity to select at least one and probably more justices with the ability to tip the balance in decisions vital to the LGBT community. Think about that — then register by Oct. 9 and vote Nov. 6.
Tiffany Razzano is editor of CLGBT, Creative Loafing’s LGBT website.