I'VE BEEN an Obama fan ever since his speech at the Democratic Nation Convention in 2004, where he won me over with his willingness to embrace change, and his resounding emphasis on listening to young people. Despite certain trepidations, I still had faith Obama would be a positive role model for the next generation in terms of social issues (which was much-needed after the anti-LGBT Bush era), and that he had the best interest of all Americans at heart. During his eight years in office, I saw him move the country forward on a variety of issues by quietly using his powers and carefully using his words to set an example. And in Obama’s farewell address he helped me recall just how far we’ve come in terms of change (“Yes, we did!”) and remember that the coming generation is full of altruistic Americans who value inclusivity, reason, and science. If nothing else, Obama reminded me that the future (if not the immediate present) is bright. There are many things to be grateful for, but here are my favorite moments from the last eight years that made me say, “Thanks, Obama!”
When He Killed Osama bin Laden with His Bare Hands!(Or ordered the SEAL Team Six and the CIA’s Special Activities Division to do it. Same diff.)
while i’m no fan of killing, sometimes it’s justified—like when you’re responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 innocent civilians. After his death it was later determined that bin Laden was making plans to assassinate President Obama and carry out a series of attacks against America, including one on the anniversary of September 11. So yeah, I’m glad we neutralized that motherfucker. Thanks, Obama!
When He Repealed the Military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Rule
In July 2011, Obama made a statement declaring a long-overdue goodbye to a rule that only served to make homophobes in the military feel more comfortable. “As of September 20, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country,” he said before signing the certification. The change came after a 60-day preparation period in which 1.9 million active service members underwent training to learn how to deal with hypothetical situations, such as seeing two junior servicemen in civilian clothes kissing and hugging at a shopping mall, and how to handle reports that a service member was seen “hanging around” a gay bar. Members of the military can now assess whether kissing and hugging “crosses acceptable boundaries” for any sexual orientation, while commanders can’t deem an establishment off limits just for catering to LGBT clientele.
When Obama Came Out in Support of Same-Sex Marriage
Or as we now like to call it, “marriage.” After many conversations, including some with his daughters Sasha and Malia about their friends with gay parents, Obama had a change of heart in 2012. Instead of merely supporting civil unions with separate but equal federal rights as he had previously, Obama said in an ABC interview, “It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” Then in 2015, on the evening of the Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry nationwide, a rainbow was cast on the White House as a nod to the “Love Wins” achievement for the gay rights movement.
When He Stood Up for Trans Youth
After North Carolina tried to force a transphobic bathroom bill, the Obama administration filed suit against the state, issuing a directive to all US public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms that matched their gender identity, as opposed to the sex indicated on their birth certificate. If not followed, schools would face lawsuits and lose federal funding. Though a Texas judge blocked that directive as “overreaching” in August, two weeks before leaving the White House the Obama administration asked a federal appeals court to throw out the decision. Obama has modeled more acceptance for trans people than any president in history, and set a new bar for inclusion that the next generation of voters won’t likely forget.
When He Let Me Stay on My Parents’ Health Insurance Until I Was 26
As a recent college grad who worked two part-time jobs while interning, I didn’t have employment that provided health insurance until late into my 20s. Being able to stay on my mom’s health insurance until I was 26 was really helpful to me and countless others across the country (especially those who own vaginas and received coverage for contraceptives and counseling). While Obamacare does cost more than initially intended, it’s still cheaper than predicted. It’s given health insurance to roughly 20 million people, and has been a lifesaver for those with pre-existing conditions. Thanks, Obama!
When He Made a Climate Change Pact with China
President Obama met with Chinese President Xi JinPing this past September to formally join the Paris Agreement, a global effort to reduce carbon emissions. But even though Trump has pledged to walk it back, the USA—and especially California—has already made strides toward saving the planet as renewable energy becomes more and more affordable than nasty coal.
When He Set a Record for Reducing and Reversing Harsh Sentences for Non-Violent Offenders
Obama’s commutations have now exceeded 1,000 prisoners—more than the last 11 presidents combined, according to the White House—839 of which were granted in 2016 alone. Obama previously said he hoped to bring the existing sentences more in line with our current laws. About 342 of those prisoners were serving life sentences they wouldn’t have received today. If nothing else, he’s certainly scratched the surface of the industrial prison complex, and provided relief to hundreds of non-violent drug offenders.
When He Supported the Decriminalization of Marijuana
Though his first term included cracking down on cannabis with raids at legal marijuana farms and ventures, Obama eventually came around on this subject as well. Citing his concern for the disproportionate arrests and incarceration of people of color for possession and use of marijuana, Obama made the sanest declaration a president has ever made about marijuana legality. In an interview with Rolling Stone he said, “We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” He also said he thought marijuana should be treated more like cigarettes and booze, since cannabis is “no more dangerous than alcohol.” I beam with pride that it was our first black president who said this, and I’m thankful I was alive to see it.