Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called out President Barack Obama today during her annual State of the Movement Address, delivered at NGLTF’s Creating Change conference in Dallas.
Speaking to a crowd of thousands at the Sheraton hotel downtown, Carey recalled that a year ago, the LGBT community was filled with hope following the election of Obama and a new Congress.
But Carey said Obama has failed to live up to his campaign promise of being a “fierce advocate” for LGBT equality.
“We were eager to see what a fierce advocate could do, but now it’s a year into this new administration, it’s a year into this new Congress,” Carey said. “There have been glimmers of advocacy, but certainly not fierceness. Speeches aren’t change. Change is more than words. Change is action.”
As an example, Carey pointed to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.
Obama has repeatedly said he favors repealing the ban, including during his recent State of the Union Address. This week, the nation’s two top military commanders told Congress they’ll conduct a yearlong study to determine how the DADT repeal should be implemented.
“Let me be clear — a yearlong study does not a fierce advocate make,” Carey said Friday. “A year is far too long to wait, and it’s time the president used the executive branch to stop these discharges now, while the military and Congress move to bring this shameful and discriminatory chapter of U.S. history to an end. Mr. President, the ball’s in your court. You have the opportunity to go down in history as one of the few presidents who acted decisively to move human rights forward.”
Carey added that Congress should be held “equally if not more accountable” than Obama, and she said it will ultimately be up to the community to “create change.”
“We thought we were finally going to have leadership that would stand with us, work with us and for us, but that hasn’t fully happened yet, and so it’s still up to us to push and in fact, to lead,” she said.
To read a full transcript of Carey’s remarks, go here.