Friday, April 16, 2010

One Step Closer

Discrimination. What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear that word? For most of you, it is probably the injustices faced by African Americans and other minorities in the United States during the pre-civil rights era.

But we are forgetting one major group of individuals that still suffer those injustices: the gay community.

Just as minorities were not allowed to attend the same schools, drink from the same water fountain, ride the same bus, or walk on the same side of the street as their white counterparts, gays have been denied access to life, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness.

In today’s “modern” era, there are still numerous laws and bans restricting the freedoms of the gay community: whether it be serving in the military, adopting children, getting married, providing for their families, or providing the love and support to each other that many of us take for granted, gays are constantly being discriminated against.

Specifically, hospitals often bar visitors who are not related to an incapacitated patient by blood or marriage. The problem is, however, that society has barred gays from getting married. Therefore, when a gay person is stuck in the hospital, instead of helping them recover from their sickness, society denies them the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides.

This is where true leadership is needed. Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order forcing most hospitals in the country to grant the same visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners that they do to married heterosexual couples. “Hospitals should not be able to deny visitation privileges on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Obama said.

In a country that values its individual freedoms so highly, why not respect the patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them? Why not allow them to spend time with their partners, just like a married couple gets to enjoy at their stay in a hospital?

Many conservatives criticize this sentiment, claiming it “undermines the definition of marriage.” But in reality, continuing a policy of discrimination undermines the definition of freedom and equality. It undermines the definition of being an American.

After all, it's not a gay right to hold someone's hand when they die. It’s a human right.

After Obama's executive order, America is one step closer at understanding this.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nuclear Security Summit: A Fresh Start

On Monday and Tuesday, President Obama will be leading one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in Washington history in the first summit to focus exclusively on the threat posed by the world's nuclear weapons.

The goal of the meeting will be to persuade the 46 foreign leaders to care as much as he does about nuclear disarmament, a promise Obama made during his presidential campaign.

This meeting goes beyond liberal and conservative, and instead, focuses on the ability of our president to set aside important national interests to achieve shared international ones. This is the only way to truly uphold the American values of peace and prosperity for all.

Obama has already made significant strides in making sure this Nuclear Security Summit is productive and efficient through his recent strategic arms-reduction treaty with Russia last week. The treaty not only strengthens the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but also shows the United State’s ability and desire to compromise for a long term stability and security.

The president has also introduced a new policy of seeking a unified international response to Iran's nuclear ambitions, including stronger United Nations sanctions. Some Republicans criticize the policy as too weak, but they fail to recognize the importance of negotiation. It is because the U.S. has been too strict with countries such as Iran that now, we have not only deteriorated our relations with their leaders, but also have placed ourselves in a tougher position to reach any goal. You have to compromise in order to get anything positive accomplished. Obama, unlike his predecessors, understands this.

While there is still much work needed to be done to secure nuclear weapons across the globe, President Obama has done a great job of improving our relations with foreign countries, thus making it easier to find common solutions .

This is just one of several concrete steps the president is taking to make good on his pledge to truly make America and the world safer by reducing the threat of nuclear weapons, proliferation and terrorism.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Signs of Recovery

After suffering from the worst economic recession in history, the economy is showing greater signs of recovery. Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its March jobs report, showing that last month, over 160,000 new jobs were created--the biggest one-month jobs gain in the past three years.

Although the unemployment rate is still at a high of 10 percent, this is a great step forward. During the first three months of 2009, on average we were losing 753,000 jobs per month. Today, we learned that in the first quarter of 2010, our economy grew by an average of 54,000 jobs per month.

No one said that fixing the economy was going to be an easy task. After all, it took the last president 8 years to ruin it in the first place.

What this slight improvement in our economy shows us is that America is finally able to dig itself out of a deep hole and is beginning to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel.

This is in large part due to the Recovery Act passed by Obama during the first month of his presidency. It is because of this effort that we can say that today, the economy actually created thousands of new jobs instead of loosing thousands of jobs.

Yes it is still a work in progress. But it IS progress.

What did the recovery act do? I think it’s obvious.