Monday, October 12, 2009

Dear President Obama

As the parents of 3 children, one of them gay, my husband of 28 years and I listened to your speech at the Human Rights Campaign gala this past weekend with the same urgent anticipation and hope that we had when you campaigned for President. And as we did during your Presidential campaign, we hung on to your every word. We knew you were not just speaking to a room full gay and lesbian activists, but to us too. In fact we honestly believed you were talking to every fair-minded person in this country who believes that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law.

I cannot tell you how profoundly grateful we are for the complete change in tone that you have brought to the table when discussing the subject of gay and lesbian equality. As a former life-long Republican it was hell enduring 8 years of a Republican administration and congress that so cruelly used our beloved son and the gay and lesbian community for political gain. We felt intense betrayal and anger.

And then you came along. Your eloquent words were a salve to our wounds. The courage you displayed by addressing, head on, the discrimination of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, the homophobia in so many churches, and all of the other injustices that gays and lesbians have endured for so long was refreshing and welcome. You gave us hope that one day our gay son would have the same rights and be treated with the same dignity and respect that those who identify as straight enjoy and take for granted.

So in spite of the fact that we have yet to see any of your promises turned into action, we have remained patient. Your words at the HRC event strengthened our resolve to hang in there with you. After all, we understand the tremendous amount of pressing issues that are demanding your attention right now. Our faith in you has not waivered.

So imagine my embarrassment and feelings of utter gullibility and naivety when I turned on the television just in time to catch John Harwood, a CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent, telling us that a White House advisor told him that the White House views the people demonstrating for Gay Rights as part of the “internet left fringe”. And that those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

Really?? pajama-clad internet left fringe?? Really? Is that how you view us?

Because if it is, then there has been some serious misjudgment on both of our parts. My husband and I are NOT “pajama-clad internet left fringe". But we are parents. And like you Mr. President we love our children with every fiber in our bodies. And we want NOTHING MORE than what every other loving parent wants for their children. We want all three of our children to be treated equally under the law. We want them to have the freedom to marry whomever they love, without any government intervention and with all the rights, responsibilities and protections that come with that contract and commitment, we want them to have the right to serve their country, if they so choose, without the constant fear of dismissal because of their sexual orientation, we want them to be able to live their lives in a world where they are defined by who they are and not who they love. In other words Mr. President, we want equal protection under the law for all of our children regardless of whom they choose to love.

And we will not settle for anything less.

And if that makes us pajama-clad internet left fringe in the eyes of "the White House" -- then the White House has got a pretty big problem because that pajama-clad internet left fringe includes a whole lot of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, fellow employees, bosses, and straight allies.

And if believing that no American should be denied rights because of their sexual orientation makes us a problem for you or any of your advisors, then I'd say you have a pretty big problem Mr. President, because we are the people who campaigned for you, believed deeply in you, donated generously to your campaign, talked enthusiastically and ad-nauseam to our friends and neighbors about you, voted for you, and cried tears of joy the night you were declared our new president.

And finally Mr. President, this is a civil rights issue. It is not a Left Issue, it is not a Right Issue. And yet, I sit here, in front of my computer, clad in my pajamas (it's bedtime), knowing in my heart that I have not misjudged you, but feeling like I still need to tell you this.

Please don't underestimate us Mr. President. You are not dealing with a bunch of left-wing fringe nutcases asking for special rights, you are dealing with normal everyday people who come from a wide swath of backgrounds, political beliefs, ethnicities, and religious beliefs, but we share a few things in common. We believe in you, we voted for you, and we know your words are not empty promises. Please don't let us down. Please prove to us that we have not been duped.

And please keep on speaking your beautiful eloquent words of hope, faith and equality. But work to make them a reality someday soon too. And please make my beautiful son equal to your beautiful daughters.

You've already got the hard part done. You spoke the powerful truth to the American people when you were asking them to hire you as their next president. And they did not reject you. But they soundly rejected the ugly, hateful, divisive politics of the last 8 years by putting you in the Oval Office. Please don't forget that. Share

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