Theres a raft of life-changing civil rights just waiting to be won by the Gay, Lesbian, Transsexual, Bisexual movement in America and we need the President we helped elect to step up.
The tipping point, the Year One watershed that startled almost as many gay people as straight ones by its passing, was the Prop 8 amendment in California last November. Recriminations about how or why this happened have their place, but heres the result: overnight 18,000 previously legal same sex marriages entered a new an unprecedented legal limbo, and all future same sex marriages were indefinitely postponed.
That this was happening on the same night Obama was elected made it feel like living in two separate Americas simultaneously, like watching the last scene of two Shakespearean dramas, with startlingly different outcomes, superimposed, one over the other. It sucked.
If youre gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual in America, Prop 8 reminded the nation, you can win your rights, then have your rights stripped, to dwell in a new and alternate legal reality of your neighbors devising, depending on who shows up to vote.
Thats 18,000 souls, cast adrift from a polity that refuses to acknowledge them, or throw them a lifeline, or lament their plight.
The most disturbing silence of all is emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this Pride Month, where our self-described fierce advocate for gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual rights, President Barack Obama, hasnt said a damn word about the raft of signature GLTB issues before him in his first 100 days.
There they sit, those heady promises of Hope and Change made to the Gay Lesbian Transsexual and Bisexual community, now looking forlorn and languishing after 100 days of complete neglect, like some unpopular kid with cooties on prom night.
Not only is this exasperating, it isnt smart. Barack Obama possesses a near miraculous eloquence, he knows the power of words to harm and heal; and like all good politicians, he knows the moment to act has arrived. So why doesnt he?
There are much more formidable tasks before him than repealing Dont Ask, Dont Tell. There are far thornier issues to tackle than the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. How hard can it be really to strongly and emphatically encourage Congress to grant immigration equality to GLTB couples under the Uniting American Families Act? Couldnt he have lamented the two-tired America that Prop 8 has conjured?
Some not everyone - say that Obamas just another middle-way career politician in the Clinton mold, with all the cynicism that implies. They scratch their heads at our naïveté. The best we can hope for, they say, is a benign head of state, who although he wont help, also wont hinder the glacial progress on gay issues.
But I dont agree. Neither, I think, does Obama himself. Heres a role redefining, once in a generation leader, and a man with a profound and deep commitment to equality and I believe he sees himself that way, too. For proof just look at how he carries himself on the world stage. Thats not just swagger, its a mission statement.
I have to believe hes getting anachronistic and piss poor advice from his handlers. I have to believe that hes ignoring his own strong political instincts for the sake of larger projects like yanno rescuing the American economy and ensuring affordable health care for all. Clearly, these are big, momentous challenges. No ones denying that. But neither is it impossible for a President, in the midst of such challenges, to repeal discrimination where he sees it. One can walk and chew gum, after all.
Whats new, whats interesting, is that lately the punches from political and religious gay bashing organizations like National Organization for Marriage and Focus on the Family really havent been landing like they used to. In fact, with their over the top theatricality and rosary bead rattling theyve actually been striking at the very rationale those organizations exist to promote. This is SIGNIFICANT. It means that were in a new and unprecedented moment of transformation.
Its time to act.
If Barack Obama continues to refuse to stand up for the GLTB community and loses our patience and support, by the end of this year he will have forfeited one of the most ardent and activist parts of his base.
Perhaps he thinks he can build a coalition without the GLTBs, but I wouldnt rate his chances.
Nor would I underrate our own.