Dear President Obama,
I just watched your ABC interview where you came out, at last, in support of equal rights for all Americans. I mean, it’s a little ironic, isn’t it? You being our first African-American President and all. I’m guessing you’ve experienced an obscene amount of discrimination during your life and certainly within your presidency! You, of all people, must know how critical it is to have equal rights.
Mr. President, I heard your battle call back in 2008 and I was skeptical, although I did have some hope that you would do well by us. I can’t imagine how frigging hard your job must be. Seriously, all the people you are supposed to please and can’t possibly, no matter what you actually do. All the favors you “owe” people. All those folks in Washington telling you what to do. That must be a bit of a nightmare. Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would want that job, so thanks for doing it.
I gotta tell you, your assertion that civil unions were okay for the gay folk and your standing behind this inane idea that a marriage must be between a man and a woman—it surprised me a bit and it never really added up. I mean, you can’t stand for equality in one ring and when you leave it sing a totally different song.
So I guess you’ve seen the light. Maybe it was Malia and Sasha’s friend’s same-sex parents who got you to shift your attitude. Maybe it was just a thoughtful evolution of your ideas.
You are a smart man. There is no denying that. Smart enough to use this issue to position yourself where you need to be positioned. You’re in there and I know you’ve gotta play the game. Really, it’s about time you got in touch with your constituents. And with what’s right, and just. I know you know better. Some of your voters won’t be happy. That’s okay. Maybe they will now have an opportunity to look at their own attitudes about equality, justice and human rights and dignity. By your example, perhaps they will look at this issue with a bit more of the complexity—and simplicity—it demands.
Whatever your motivation, I want to thank you for doing what’s right.
Even if it took you a while. We’ve had presidents, even recent ones, who NEVER chose to do what’s right, so the importance of that isn’t lost on me. What will you do next, with your change of attitude and evolution of position? What action will you take next? Is this the end of the line?
I know you are not particularly radical and that more radical issues won’t be on the table. What I’d like to see addressed seriously is the absolute need for education about sexual orientation and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (L/G/B/T) people in schools so that young people see an image of themselves and stop killing themselves. I want to see more funding allotted for shelters and safe houses for all of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (and assumed to be L/G/B/T youth) who are kicked out, abused, or otherwise harmed and disenfranchised who end up homeless in a world that can be very unkind to the homeless and very unkind to queer folks of any type. I work with L/G/B/T young people and I can tell you, they need services, support and funds to help them thrive.
President Obama, I do want to express gratitude for this important first step. No other president has been so courageous and bold as to discuss the issue of equal rights for L/G/B/T people and you have set a precedent that is paramount to human dignity and rights. However, there is more work to do and I hope you don’t stop there.
The bigger picture is how we try to limit people and terrorize them when it comes to their relationships and sexuality. I’m sick of people telling other people what kind of relationships or families to have. I’m tired of people being demonized and punished for their sexuality. Whether it’s Moms who are criticized for being sexual people, women who need abortions being put down for being sexual at all, or gay youth being tormented for being gay, our sexuality seems to be constantly up for public debate and demands are made on us for how we should express it. I’m tired of this and I’m on a mission to end it.
Every single one of us deserves to live a happy, fulfilling sexual life with healthy relationships and all of the information we possibly need at our fingertips to help us do it. Our laws need to support that and so do our budgets. This is paramount to every human being’s life. Are you on board for that?
Good luck in the election President Obama. Take some more risks. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much people are inspired by real courage.
Sexuality Educator and L/G/B/T Advocate