Ala. State Rep. Patricia Todd, the first openly gay elected official in Alabama, was invited to the White House for Monday’s Pride celebration. “I found out about the event about a week ago and decided to attend on Sunday,” Todd said, adding that she flew out that night to attend. “It was a very nice event and I was honored to be invited to the White House to meet the Obamas.”
Todd said she did get a chance to talk to the President and that she thanked him for his support of the LGBT community and for giving the community hope through support on various issues.
As concerns are voiced in the blogosphere about the President’s apparent lack of action on LGBT issues, Todd said she thought the President was doing a lot for the community. “I don’t think we has been quiet on our issues at all,” Todd said. “He has issued orders to overturn the ban on HIV immigration, expanding domestic partnership coverage to federal employees, and has appointed more LGBT folks to his administration than any other President.”
Todd said she understood the concerns within the community, but urged patience. “[Obama] is working with the Department of Defense to overturn [Don’t ask, don’t tell] but wants to make sure that it is done in a manner that does not upset the military operations. We must remember that we are fighting two major wars at this time. While I understand the anger from our community, I guess I am more patient than most.“
Todd said as an elected official herself, she realizes that the President must have the right timing and be willing to compromise. “If I had charged into the Legislature demanding marriage equality and non-discrimination, I would have become totally ineffective,” Todd said. “Instead, I have spent my first 3 years in office building relationships and a foundation for moving our issues forward.”
Todd urged the LGBT community to trust the President. “Believe me I want total equality NOW, but I do trust President Obama to do the right thing.” Todd said. “There is no doubt in my mind (and heart) that Obama understands the injustice we have suffered and he will work to overturn the discriminatory policies of the past. I am willing to give him another 6 months before I would criticize him.”
Todd said she is proud of the work she has done in the Alabama legislature working for policies to reduce poverty in the state including passing legislation creating a permanent commission on poverty. “The commission will review poverty reduction programs that work and develop policies that can help move citizens out of poverty,” Todd said. “I am also working to establish a dedicated funding stream for public transportation which, I believe, is the foundation to economic development in our region.”
Todd said she was committed to advancing LGBT equality in Alabama. “The Hate Crimes bill will be introduced again next year and I will continue to advocate for, and offer an amendment to add gender identity to the bill,” she said.