"These ideals, when voiced by generations of citizens, are what made it possible for me to stand here today. These ideals are what made it possible for the people in this room to live freely and openly when for most of history that would have been inconceivable. That is the promise of America. That is the promise we are called to fulfill. And day by day, law by law, mind by changing mind, that is the promise we are fulfilling."
– President Obama, HRC National Dinner, October 10, 2009
I came to work in the White House because I thought I'd be able to change people's lives in real and tangible ways here. I believed that President Barack Obama would not only be the type of leader who would bring about real change, but also that he would put in place a team of committed public servants across the federal government -- smart and gifted leaders, straight and gay, women and men, as diverse as America -- who would work tirelessly to improve the lives of all Americans, including the LGBT community. And I haven’t been disappointed.
I know many don’t think things are changing fast enough. The President shares your urgency. This month, speaking at the HRC National Dinner, he said "while progress may be taking longer than you’d like as a result of all that we face... do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach."
While our long-term focus is on major legislative goals like repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell and DOMA, passing an employment non-discrimination act, and providing domestic partner benefits for federal employees, we are also working daily to find ways to make life a little better and a little fairer for LGBT Americans.
We saw this very clearly this week: HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a series of proposals to ensure that HUD’s core housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity; he also commissioned the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing.
On the same day, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a plan to establish the nation’s first ever national resource center to assist communities across the country in their efforts to provide services and support for older LGBT Americans.
And just a few weeks ago, the Administration on Aging at HHS issued its first ever grant to an LGBT Aging Services Program through its Community Innovations for Aging in Place initiative to the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
Every day so many of us working in the Obama Administration ask: How can we ensure that our time here makes the lives of LGBT Americans living across this country safer, fairer, and a little better? We know how much work is ahead of us. Some items will take longer than others. But the shift since January is clear, and progress at every level will continue.
Day by day, law by law, mind by changing mind. That is the promise we are fulfilling.
Brian Bond is Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement