Beyond the Pink Triangle

What’s in the Obama Budget for Gays?

Obama Commerce Secretary“Go big or go home”, could sum up the gamble the White House has made with its sweeping $3.8 trillion dollar budget to Congress.

As the President said on Wednesday, “It’s more than just a budget; it’s a blueprint for our economic future. It’s a vision of what the Democratic Party stands for — that boldly and wisely makes the choices we as a nation have been putting off for too long.”

In scope, it rivals the 1981 budget of Ronald Reagan, and like Regan, who also inherited a flagging economy, Obama is using the budget to redefine the priorities, as well as the role, of federal government. Where Reagan sought to increase defense spending, the Obama budget pumps billions of dollars into health care, green jobs and education, all the while risking the support of conservative Democrats with his wide-reaching and deficit increasing goals.

Gays and lesbians don’t live in a vacuum. Many Californians, after Prop. 8 passed were angered by their loss, but freely admitted that the election of Obama was the more important victory. While the struggle for gay civil rights continues, we’re not immune or blind to the many other issues that affect us in our daily lives. Just because an issue doesn’t have a pink triangle attached, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t impact us. In fact, many of the issues Obama’s budget tackles have direct bearing on the LGBT movement. Here are three on our radar.


The Obama budget bets the house on its education policy, which expands the Bush-era strategy of rewarding schools and teachers who excel, while increasing aid for college tuition. If there’s one single issue that gays and lesbians should get behind that’s not an obvious gay rights issue, it ought to be education. A survey by the Public Policy Institute of California released in December showed that it was education, not race, that was the key deciding factor in who voted for or against Prop. 8. The poll found:

“57 percent of voters with a college degree opposed the amendment, while 69 percent of voters whose education had stopped after gradating high school cast their vote in favor of rescinding marriage equality.”

The whole of the gay rights movement has been about educating people about our lives and our basic equality with our straight counterparts and the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to overcome their own ingrained homophobia and ignorance.


Despite myths to the contrary, LGBT people are more likely to live at the poverty level than straights. A Williams Institute Study titled “Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community”, not only found that gays and lesbians enjoyed no economic advantages, but that rates of poverty among children in gay and lesbian households are “strikingly high.” There are nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, which means, by conservative estimates, 4 million gays and lesbians who have no health coverage whatsoever.

Increased costs and access to medical care are even more devastating when you’re living with AIDS and with AIDS infection rates rising by double-digits among young gay men, a segment of the population highly likely not to have coverage, we’re flirting with disaster. While AIDS groups like GMHC are able to provide some level of service, the reality is that the problem is too large for non-profits to tackle on their own. National health care is contentious for many, but for the LGBT community, it ought to be a moral imperative. We’ve seen firsthand what happens when prevention and treatment are treated as secondary priorities.

Green Jobs & Infrastructure

We’re all in this together on Planet Earth, but LGBT people have a special stake in the nascent green economy. While it’s always been the narrative of gays and lesbians to move away from their hometowns for the lure of the big city, the changing economy has led to a dramatic rise in urban populations in the last decade. There are 40 million living in California today. By mid-century that number is expected to double. This is a mixed blessing for gays and lesbians. Historic gay ghettos like Chelsea, The West Village and West Hollywood have been priced out for many LGBT people, but the cycle of gentrification and renewal in urban areas has been spearheaded by local gay populations. It’s gay people who move into affordable areas and open new businesses and make once unfriendly areas more livable.

They don’t call it “gaytrification” for nothing, after all.

For cities to meet the demands of this new growth, the aging stock of transportation networks, utilities and even such basic things as pipes and electric grids, need a massive overhaul.

Furthermore, many of the new green jobs are perfectly suited to the design-eye that we’re famous for. 70% of the existing housing stock in America will be replaced within the next thirty years, which is good news for contractors and builders, but also for architects and designers. The challenges to the new economy can’t be overcome with brute strength or senseless spending, but with a knack for detail, a focus on innovative solutions and an ability to take new technologies and make them compatible with daily life. Maybe we’re a little biased, but those are skills we think LGBT people have in spades.

What other issues should we be paying attention to as a community outside the usual circle of civil rights suspects? Are you supportive of the Obama budget or against it? Let us know in the comments.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #politics #aids #barackobama stories and more


  • Wayne

    So we should just ignore the obvious fact that there is absolutely NO movement (or Change) on issues of real importance concerning LGBT people and instead only concentrate on issues that affect the general population? So talking about the lack of support on gay issues from our “fierce advocate” in the White House is a no no?

  • blake


    Shockingly, there are other issues that face gay people besides DADT, DOMA, etc. Some of us are equally concerned about other matters and would like to hear about them.

    Queerty covered Obama and gay civil rights issues last week and the week before that and the week before that! There is such a thing as multitasking.

  • Wayne

    @Blake “There is such a thing as multitasking”

    Yes, there is such a thing. Too bad Obama doesn’t seem capable of it when it comes to LGBT issues.

  • Jason in WV

    I’m with Wayne on this one. Let’s shove LGBT issues down the throats of DC. The squeaky wheels get the oil – this is no time to be quiet about what we need as a community!

  • tropSpice

    It has been 67 days. Obama is using his political capital now to focus on the economy, moving this country towards greater fiscal regulation and healthcare reform. Bringing up DADT or DOMA will fire up the Republican/religious fundamentalists big time, who are quite directionless/demoralized at the moment.
    I think it is wise for Obama to wait on these issues now, but would like to see progress by early 2010.

  • RichardR

    @Wayne: Wayne, you’re a bore. Impassioned, but a bore.

  • Wayne

    It’s sad that any gay person would find the struggle for equality a “bore”. I believe it’s imperative for the gay community to realize that our issues are once again being put on the back burner. And anyone who thinks that Obama will take up the cause of gay rights at some other time in the future, are fooling themselves. In a year or two from now Obama will already be starting up his re-election campaign. No one is foolish enough to believe that Obama will start speaking out on gay rights right before his re-election kicks off, do they? Really?

    If Obama doesn’t act on equal rights now for LGBT people, then he never will. It’s seems a lot of people in the Gay community seem more interested in helping Obama’s political career than they are in furthering equal rights. And that’s not a “bore” it’s just plain sad.

  • studly

    How are you missing out on the story of the year? The salaries of HIV, LGBT leaders as revealed yesterday by the Washington Blade? You want some email, publish this story.

  • blake


    No, the “bore” comment was not about gay civil rights. The comment was directed to you for wanting to hijack a thread devoted to the Obama’s budget to suit your needs.

    There are other threads on Queerty that focus on Obama and civil rights. Why not go there? Why can’t you be respectful of Japhy’s desire to start a discussion about the budget in this space?

    Japhy included in his article the fact that queer Americans and their children are facing serious issues of poverty. Many of those issues are discussed in Obama’s budget. We all understand that prejudice affects our ability to earn a living but there are existing threads for that.

    Why can’t you be respectful of other people who want to discuss the budget and economic crisis? People are losing their jobs, homes, health care, etc. Those are issues that are important to Queerty readers also.



    I think the budget in general is going in more progressive area. Universal health care and education are critical issues facing people. As more people lose their jobs, health insurance, especially through COBRA, becomes unaffordable.

    The spending components are also important because they will put more money in the economy. The economist Paul Krugman ( thinks that that Obama should have had a much larger stimulus bill and that budget should also have more money to inject into the economy.

    I read yesterday that California is projected to have somewhere between 12 to 14% unemployment based on U.S. official policy. That means the real unemployment number will be closer to 16 to 18% because of those people who are not counted by the U.S. That’s scary.

  • atdleft

    @tropSpice: And they’re not fired up already over stem cell research and lifting the Global Gag Rule? Sorry, but that cat’s been let out of the hat. Between reproductive rights issues and the “bailout” drama, the fundie wingnuts are already after Obama.

    So again, why wait any longer on our civil rights when we now have a strong enough Democratic majority in Congress to make it happen? If we can’t do it now, then how much longer must we wait after 2010?

  • atdleft

    @blake: Did you see Krugman’s column today?

    Dammit, I wish he could be running the financial show in the White House instead of Geithner & Summers. Krugman’s really right on this. We need to ditch the Reagan-Bush model of securitization to truly fix the financial mess we’re in.

  • Patrick Wang

    I find it perplexing that we want Obama to do the work from the top down. Did we not learn our lessons with DADT and Clinton, if there is no political cover, there is no political will. All politics are local! If you want marriage equality, get to work, if you want an all inclusive ENDA, organize and prove there are supporters.

    I’m reminded of something that Eleanor Roosevelt once told a group of us at a dinner. It was when she had first introduced A. Philip Randolph, a great labor leader back in the 1930s up to and including the civil rights movement.

    And she introduced him to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the first time at a dinner, and Roosevelt beseeched him to please tell him what he thought of the nation, what he thought of the plight of the Negro people and what did he think – where the nation was headed.

    And A. Philip Randolph held forth and spoke eloquently on his thoughts, and at the end of it Roosevelt said to him, “You know, Mr. Randolph, I’ve heard everything you’ve said tonight, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I agree with everything that you’ve said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit.” He said, “But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it.”

  • Wayne

    @Blake. uh, Hello? Doesn’t the title of this thread ask the very question “What’s in Obama’s Budget for Gays”? That pretty much invites discussion on, I dunno know,”Gay” issues?

  • rogue dandelion

    @tropSpice: if he does not move on these issues this year, he never will
    2010 is an congressional elecion year- they become immediately paralyzed when it comes to any mildly controversial issue when facing reelection.
    After the 2010 election, chances are the democratic majority will remain the same or reduced.
    Really, this year will be our best chance in a generation to see

  • myrios123

    I think the political game is a lot like chess, you have to plan well ahead for any victory. My vote was cast for a president who is not going to throw me under the bus. So far, although I have “hope” that change is a coming, I’m still feeling kind of invisible.

    What does Obama’s budget have for gays? My hope is that the education of more people means less hate and oppression, that medical care for more people means a healthier society, less disease, and more cures. I hope that more green jobs and infrastructure means more cash in my pocket and less of me being a recessionista.

  • gray hunt

    Obama & Co. Only a few months and I am so sick of seeing their faces every day mouthing nothing but lies and hogwash on and on and on….

  • atdleft

    @rogue dandelion: You get it. Thank you! Hopefully we won’t lose seats next year, but we never know. That’s why it’s better for us to turn up the heat on our Dems to move sooner (as in 2009) rather than later (likely long after 2012).

    @Patrick Wang: Who said that? Excuse me, but I am canvassing my hometown. We are calling & emailing our Congresscritters. We are organizing. But if we don’t pressure our electeds to act, what good is our organizing?

  • atdleft

    @gray hunt: So you want Bush back? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see Obama as perfect. (Full Disclosure: I voted for Hillary in the primary, then moved to Barack for the general.) But even considering all the warts in the Obama Administration, I wouldn’t trade them in for 4 more years of Bush (aka Sarah Palin/Bobby Jindal/Willard Romney/whatever other loser the GOP can find to run in 2012).

  • John Smith

    Education and health care are none of the federal government’s business. To borrow money from the Chinese and piss it away on “programs” is madness. This will all end very badly. The bill will come due.

  • Aaron J.

    Oooh, we’ve got one of those real live libertarian gays in our midst. Interesting species, those.

  • bigjake75

    @Aaron J. What is wrong with being libertarian…socialism does not work, trust the govt and you are in for disappointment. We do not need the govt or people to give us our full rights….they are ours by birth. But the constitution is supposed to protect our rights. It is the people, through their election of bigots, that allows the govt to keep our rights from being enjoyed.

    So yes, Im a libertarian homosexual, ladies and gentlemen. I trust NO politician when it comes to our liberties. And we must be tireless in advocating for the utilization of rights that already are ours.

  • Mister C

    OK Big Jake nice that you’re a ibertarian….

    But I must ask you. You said socialism does not work. In this country socialism is not practiced. So who’s the socialist?

    And if you don’t truat no politician. I’m sure you won’t trust a libertarian politician neither….Huh?

  • Mister C

    Libertarian I meant…..excuse the typo.

  • BrianZ

    I read this post and sort of sighed. You are really, REALLY stretching it, don’t you think Japhy? Not to mention playing in to stereotypes. Not every queer is handy at being fashionable and all too many don’t have the money (and sure as hell won’t be getting loans now!) as you point out in your own friggin post, to continue the gay-rehab of blighted neighborhoods.

    I appreciate that you are trying to be positive. I just think you could have done a hell of a lot better at picking examples that aren’t so blatantly stereotypical (and untrue) and self-refuting! Maybe you need to step out of whatever metro-ghetto you live in and experience the rest of the country.

  • RichardR

    @Wayne: And Japhy concludes his post with these words: “What other issues should we be paying attention to as a community outside the usual circle of civil rights suspects? Are you supportive of the Obama budget or against it? Let us know in the comments.”

    Fighting for civil rights certainly is no bore. Consistently ignoring reality and denying progress, however, is.

    In Obama’s first term, despite the hazards posed by the 2010 election, for sure we will get open military service; and are very likely to get inclusive employment non-discrimination legislation. On the former, the Obama administration has already begun substantive work, and on the latter, even our enemies won’t fight hard.

    In my opinion, we will have a long wait on gay marriage or gay civil unions at the federal level. A repeal of DOMA is dicey until there’s a veto-proof majority in the Senate.

    Obama’s budget, ambitious and deficit/debt exploding, is the right way to go for the country, the world, and for us, right now. But count on it: in Obama’s second term, if not before, we all will be paying higher taxes.

    Even absent the world-wide economic melt-down and two critical military operations, achieving our civil rights goals wouldn’t and couldn’t happen with the wave of a gavel or the stroke on an executive pen.

    Like Roosevelt, Obama has told our community that we have to make it happen. Changing the makeup of the Supreme Court must come before the achievement of some of our goals, and building solid democratic majorities must come before that, and showing the country is on the road to recovery before the 2010 elections must come before that.

    So try to be realistic yet hopeful, and once in a while, take a wider view.

  • blake


    You’re off topic. This discussion is about the budget and economic issues.


    Does anyone know how much of the budget will go to programs like spending on HIV prevention and research?

    I’ve heard that Obama will end funding for abstinence only programs. Is that true?

    Is there money in the budget that gay non-profits can target for grants for work? For instance, I’m not a fan of the “Faith-based initiatives” being funded, but has anyone ever heard of gay churches every winning any funding for community programs for health care, elder care, job training?

  • Bill Perdue

    What’s in the Obama Budget for Gays?

    Let’s look at what’s b>not in it.

    There is no provision for socialized medicine. ‘Universal health care’ without single payer is really just more giveaways to price-gouging insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and HMOs.

    There is no proposal for trillions for excellent, low-cost guaranteed housing, for free education K through U or for the trillions needed for infrastruce repair and growth.

    There are no provisions for a constitutionally guaranteed income of $25.00 an hour for working people, with equivalent incomes for the unemployed, disabled and retired, all adjusted to increase automatically with inflation.

    There is no provision for a constitutionally guaranteed workweek of 30 hours with no loss in pay, with double time after 8 hours in a day and double time and half after 36 hours in a week.

    There is no proposal to make hyperinflation less likely by ordering the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops, mercenaries and secret police agencies from South Asia and cutting the purse strings that pay for zionist ethnic cleansing and apartheid against Palestinians.

    What Obama is after is to enrich the rich even more. That’s why he unconditionally supports the oil wars, demands takebacks from unions and passes out tens of trillions to recoup the losses of the rich, the one class in American society that doesn’t need more money. The net effect of Obama’s policies is to take money out of the hands of working people and give it to the rich which all but insures the likelihood or a depression.

    When it comes it’ll be called the Obama Depression.

    Obama’s biggest and earliest contributors were Wall Street financial, insurance and real estate (FIRE) companies and now they’re getting the biggest pay off in history.

    Obama is a lap dog of the rich. Democrats who support his anti-GLBT bigotry and anti-worker policies for partisan reasons are on the wrong side of the trenches.

  • Wayne

    @ Richard R “So try to be realistic yet hopeful, and once in a while, take a wider view”

    Realistic? So it’s not “realistic” to expect Obama to even make an effort at honoring the promises he made. It was Obama who promised repeatedly, over and over again during the campaign to end all of DOMA, and to end DADT. It was Obama who promised to be a “fierce advocate” for gays and lesbians, was it not?

    Why is it so un-realistic to actually expect Obama to do what he promised? It wasn’t someone else who made those promises. And don’t B.S. yourself by saying he will get to it later. It’s now or never. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about politics knows that! Obama and the Dems will NOT be pushing gay equality issues right before midterm elections and Obama’s re-election campaign kicks off. Our issues have been put on the back burner once again. You are deluding yourself into believing that Obama will act on issues of equality at some magical time in the future – And yet you are telling me to be realistic?!


    @Bill Perdue:If the unemployed get as much as those who work, who is going to bother? How would it even be *possible*, much less desirable, to inflate fast enough for everyone to get the equivalent of today’s $25/hour? I’ve never heard those particular suggestions before, but on first hearing they sound like nonsense.

  • Arlen Rothberg

    Islam coming to a neighborhood near you soon!!!!

    HATE preacher Anjem Choudary is being probed by cops after demanding gays are stoned to death.
    Met officers are discussing with lawyers whether there are grounds to charge him.

    And senior police sources say they are certain they will get the go-ahead to prosecute.

    It comes after The Sun this week demanded hatemonger Choudary, 41, face the law.

    Cops have received a string of complaints over his vile remarks.

    A Met spokesman said they were being “assessed”. A police source said: “We are taking legal advice on whether there is anything he can be prosecuted for, but we anticipate a full inquiry.”

    Dad-of-three Choudary — former right-hand man of exiled fanatic Omar Bakri Mohammed — called for Sharia law in Britain.

    He told a press conference in Chingford, East London, that adulterers and gays would be stoned to death under the regime.

    And the firebrand said Business Secretary Lord Mandelson would be among those executed.

    Dole-claiming Choudary, who also organised the sick Luton protests against soldiers returning from Iraq, could be prosecuted under the 1986 Public Order Act.

    It outlaws behaviour intending to cause harassment, alarm or distress — and is punishable with up to six months’ jail and a £5,000 fine.

  • Bill Perdue

    @HYHYBT: Most workers get far less than $25 an hour with good benefits and Obama is even demanding that workers who do get decent wages, like autoworkers, give back big chunks of their wages and benefits.

    Retirees, disabled people and students should be able to live well. The benefits of those trained for reemployment can be cut if they don’t go on to get a job.

    The problem for the 4 million fired in the last few months and the other millions unemployed or underemployed before these mass firings began is that the extreme concentration of wealth, the export of jobs and other policies favored by Obama and Bush are cutting employment to the bone and that their benefits run out, that there are few if any ways to retrain and that unlike the bosses most of us don’t get a few million if we lose our jobs.

    You say its nonsense to constitutionally insure that unemployed workers and working people of whatever status are healthy, well fed, housed, and educated. Do you think its nonsense to give trillions and trillions to the rich thru bailouts and stimulus measures that are way too little and way too late. How is it sensible to give more money, trillions and trillions, to the less than 1% of the population who already virtually own everything of economic value and have more money than they could possibly spend?

    If the economic situation becomes desperate, and that’s still likely, and if Obama escalates the killing of civilians and GIs in South Asia, and that’s guaranteed until he becomes Nixon redux then I think you’ll find that huge numbers of people will embrace these or similar ideas.

    GLBT working folks, like every one who works for a living, are in for some very hard times and we desperately need the repeal of the DOMAs, same sex marriage equality, a tough ENDA and a tough hate crimes bill to help us survive them.

    Anyone who thinks those questions are off topic is off their rocker.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Arlen Rothberg: Jumpin jebuz, Arlen, he sounds just like an American redneck christer televangelist. And so do islamophobes and anti-Semites.

    I wish we had hate crimes laws to prosecute the christers who say we’re sinful, broken and undeserving of civil rights and who advocate violence like televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who, on a live broadcast said “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I’m going to kill him and tell God he died”


    @Bill Perdue: I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a good idea if it could be done, I just believe a $25 minimum wage tied to inflation is intrinsically impossible.

  • Bill Perdue


    Posing a political solution to the economic crises in the form of a guaranteed income for working people is impossible, for now. Not technically impossible as you assume, but because people have become used to the uber rich controlling both parties and running a government of, by and for the rich.

    The recession is likely to become a depression. Since Reagan, government unemployment figures only count those receiving benefits. When their benefits are exhausted they’re dropped from the list. The real figures for unemployment are at Depression levels.

    As the shock of economic collapse wears off the ideas of ending the war and guaranteeing good living conditions for working people at the expense of the rich will begin to sound very reasonable to millions. When that sentiment becomes massive we’ll make the necessary changes.

  • lileasy

    @Wayne: I’m with Wayne. I am truely disappointed in Obama’s silence on gay issues. Unless I see something positive coming from him in the near future, he can kiss any monitary support from me in the next election goodbye.

  • fem in the city

    You guys should do a blog about how Obama put DADT in the closet until 2010.

    Gays need to wake up.


    whenever they are exposed, they call it conspiracy theories … because they want us to instead trust THEM rather than our own thoughts.

Comments are closed.