President Barack Obama took a solid stand against the Russian government’s pogrom against LGBT people and political protesters in an appearance last night on “The Tonight Show.” Obama stated that he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”
(Comments about Russia start after the three minute mark.)
Additionally, President Obama has cancelled his upcoming summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin, in part, because of Russia’s treatment of its LGBT citizens.
Elections have consequences, and the fact that President Obama is speaking forcefully on behalf of LGBT people around the world is a sign of how far we have come in the movement for full equality. Putin must now confront the fact that he’s not dealing with a few angry gay people on the other side of the world, but indeed, has run afoul of constructive diplomacy with the world’s most powerful leader.
President Obama and President Putin were set to meet one-on-one, but in light of several issues, including the Russian government’s granting of asylum to Edward Snowden, the Obama administration decided that talks would not be constructive at this point. Though the initial White House release did not specifically mention Russia’s treatment of LGBT citizens, a White House official has confirmed that concerns over the Russian crackdown contributed to the decision.
On “The Tonight Show,” President Obama also reiterated that the world community would not tolerate an Olympic Games where gays and lesbians are treated differently, pointing out that “they are athletes. They are there to compete.”
Now that the United States President has spoken, all eyes certainly will turn toward the worsening conditions in Russia in advance of the Sochi Olympic Games. All athletes and spectators who don’t happen to conform to the supremacist leanings of the Putin government have a legitimate reason to be concerned for their safety in Sochi, in a nation that, it’s become increasingly clear, has no business hosting the Olympics.
To ensure that the world hears the true story of Russia’s pogrom against its own citizens, Truth Wins Out started a petition urging NBC to tell the real story of Russian human rights abuses by adding television journalist Rachel Maddow to their Olympics coverage team, assuming that the Olympics go on as planned in Sochi. The petition has over 5,000 signatures from people who want to support the athletes competing, but want to do so with a clear conscience. Truth Wins Out urges NBC to pay heed to the growing chorus of people, both in the United States and abroad, and now including the United States President, who are speaking out against the appalling actions of the Putin government, by committing their full journalistic resources to what may be one of the most significant Olympics stories in the history of the Games.
If you haven’t signed that petition, SIGN IT NOW.