If Barack Obama was gay…
If Barack Obama was gay, he would have just signed an executive order giving himself, a federal employee, some additional benefits. Let’s see how that might change the lives of Barack and, well, Michael.
The new benefits include:
- Barack can now sign up Michael for long-term care insurance.
- Barack can now use his sick leave to care for Michael and Michael’s dependents. (I’m not sure how many sick days a President is allowed — I imagine it’s as many as he needs.)
- If Barack is assigned to move overseas,* Michael can be included when determining family size for the housing allocation, and he will be able to use the overseas medical facilities. In the event of an emergency, Michael will eligible to be evacuated.
That’s it. Nothing more.
Michael will still not be able to:
- Have health insurance provided through Barack’s employer,
- Benefit from his pension should Barack pre-decease him,
- Visit his partner or his partner’s children if hospitalized when traveling to any of the more than forty states that do not recognize his marriage to Barack,
- Travel safely with Barack when visiting Saudi Arabia or Iran or any other county in which homosexuality is punishable by death, or
- Have any of the other 1,138 US federal benefits identified by our General Accounting Office (GAO) which are contingent upon his marital status.
One more thing is wrong with this scenario: if Barack Obama was gay, he would never have been elected president. I’m very proud that my nation elected an African-American to be president, and honestly, I think he’s doing a terrific job with the mess that he was left by the previous administration. But I cannot suspend my disbelief long enough to imagine that blue-and-red America could vote a gay man into the White House. We had a hard enough time envisioning Bill Clinton as First Gentleman, let alone Michael. Perhaps that day will come, someday.
For today, I believe that Mr. Obama, with a stroke of his pen, gave as many rights as he was legally empowered to grant to federal employees. I hope that the next few years bring many more days of equality for all citizens.
*Granted, not likely for a president.
By day, Helen engineers new materials to make computer chips cheaper, better, and faster. When the son goes down (pun intended), she writes about personal finance at Affine Financial Services.