Back when Barack Obama first took office, his tech wizards quickly revamped the WhiteHouse.gov website with some slick new features all while the new president was taking his oath of office. And perhaps more importantly, an easy-to-follow menu of where our new commander-in-chief stood on certain issues became available. Gay activists were particularly excited about the entire section devoted to LGBT rights on WhiteHouse.gov’s Civil Rights section, which took up nearly half the page. There was talk about his support for ENDA, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, supporting civil unions and repealing DOMA, beefing up the nationa’s HIV/AIDS strategy, and ensuring adoption rights for gays. “This is all in writing! On the President’s Web site!,” cheerfully reported Gay.com. Well, uh, all of that is now gone from Obama’s homepage. Still not asking yourselves what Obama has done for gays lately?
The only remaining language specific to gays in the Civil Rights section is the paragraph on “Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Laws” and a mention of “strengthening” hate crimes legislation As AmericaBlog notes, the language about DOMA has changed, too: “[President Obama] supports changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security…” Yes, repealing DADT is now all about “changing” it.
But didn’t things look different on January 21, when Obama took office? Yes, they did. Center For Inquiry:
The new website’s policy agenda contains a lengthy description of proposed civil rights initiatives to promote equal rights for the LGBT community. Many of these initiatives were staunchly opposed by George W. Bush’s conservative Christian base, including a bill to ban workplace discrimination, support for civil unions, opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the expansion of adoption rights. Noticeably absent from the new website are the pages formerly devoted to George Bush’s Faith Based Community Initiative, a program that drew fire from both religious and secular defenders of church-state separation.
Why the changes? Explains the White House in a statement: “As is the case with most websites, periodic changes are made to WhiteHouse.gov. Recently we overhauled the issues section to concisely reflect the President’s broad agenda, and will continue to update these pages. The President’s commitment on LGBT issues has not changed, and any suggestions to the contrary are false.”
Except: Those suggestions are not.
We’ve dutifully explained how Obama has done squat for the GLBT community since landing in the White House. His silence on Iraq’s gay murders. His non-existent deadline for repealing DADT. His 11th hour support for Congress passing hate crimes legislation.
And now, right on his website, Barack Obama has all but erased — literally — his support of gay rights. Just one example: The website’s explanation of where Obama stands on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Previously, it read:
Repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell:
President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
Huh. Funny how things change.
But go ahead, keep supporting President Obama. We could find 250 things to commend him for in his 100 days. But now go ahead and excuse him for only being in office 100 days without helping the gay community — and know that he had enough time to update his website and strip away almost every promise he made to us during the campaign.
UPDATE: After a stream of phone calls and email messages into the White House asking what was going on, WhiteHouse.gov has been updated with Obama’s stance once again appearing. The White House media affairs office tells Queerty the site was undergoing an overhaul, and many sections were affected, including the Civil Rights page. The new Civil Rights page now includes more information, but it no longer as robust as the original version.
(Want to see what Obama’s Civil Rights page used to look like? Click to the next page)