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Pre-Election, Political Leaders Make Gay Support Videos

By L.K. Regan

Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project is growing by the day; it has landed at its own website (www.itgetsbetterproject.com), and now extends to the promised release of a book, the proceeds from which will benefit services for gay teens. The video channel that sex advice columnist Savage started in response to a string of suicides by bullied gay teens has attracted global attention. Now, in the final days before the mid-term election, the channel has received videos from some very high-profile political figures—including the president.

Last Thursday night, the White House posted a video to Savage's site showing President Obama talking directly to young, gay Americans about his own experience of exclusion, and encouraging them to look forward to a brighter day ahead:



Shortly thereafter, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (a Democrat representing San Francisco) made a video for the channel as well, offering her personal and political support, and citing the recently passed hate crimes law as a sign of her commitment to gay rights:



This virtual parade of political leaders was led last Tuesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, in the midst of the chaos surrounding DADT, made a video of her own. In her message, she refers to her own witnessing of the road to women's equality:


The backdrop to all three videos, of course, is last week's drama surrounding Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which saw the ban on gays in the military overturned and then reinstated in the course of only a few days. Though DADT is back, it is so in a modified form—new rules issued by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last Thursday hold that only the heads of the branches of the armed services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines), working with the military's general counsel and Gates' personnel chief, will be able to dismiss people under DADT. Previously, anyone with a rank equivalent to one-star general could issue such a dismissal.

Even so, tensions with the gay community are running high in anticipation of the election, and the It Gets Better Project videos are clearly designed to smooth those waters with gestures of good faith. Many LGBT people may respond much as Savage himself did, in an interview with CNN. As Savage says, while the videos are encouraging for LGBT youth, there is much more that could be done: