Bil Browning

An open letter to President-Elect Obama

Filed By Bil Browning | November 18, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, gay open letter, LGBT community, open letter to obama, open letter to president-elect obama, President-Elect

NOTE: Originally this post was the focus of a website Alex Garcia and I were going to launch tomorrow. We even have the site built! We wanted to publish an open letter to President-Elect Obama with the LGBT community's expectations of his presidency; we didn't want him to forget about us. The site would have allowed folks to write their own letter to Obama's transition team and upload their YouTube videos for video letters to Obama.

After the Seven Weeks for Equality missive was released over the weekend and Obama's website was updated with a comprehensive LGBT civil rights agenda today, it seemed rather silly to duplicate the efforts. Instead we decided to stand down and keep an eye on how things progressed. I'm interested though... How many of you would have been willing to sign onto the open letter?

ObamaOpenLetter.jpg

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

Congratulations on your history-making triumph over centuries of racial injustice and cruelty by being elected to the highest office in the land. You are living proof that the time has come for Americans to reach beyond the limits that some of us would impose on one another. As a people, we need to truly live your campaign motto of "Yes, we can!" without limitation on sex, race, gender identity, age, disability, religion and -- yes -- sexual orientation.

During this election cycle, great strides were taken to erase the limits put on two groups -- race and gender. But another group was not afforded the same privilege. Once again, our relationships and our human need to love were put to a popular vote with a judgmental majority winning the day.

As citizens of this great land, LGBT people subscribe to the basic tenet that "all men are created equal" and yet we find ourselves far less than equal -- not welcomed by some of our neighbors and colleagues -- not embraced and encouraged to live our dreams, but, instead, publicly condemned and denigrated. Neighbors and strangers alike advocate eliminating recognition of our relationships by putting anti-gay signs in their yards. Ministers who alleged to represent a loving God encourage violence against us.

Worst of all, violent crimes against us are often ignored or treated lightly by authorities and law enforcement. In school, our children are ridiculed and taunted by classmates and teachers with impunity; one California middle-school student was recently shot in the back of the head during English class because he was seen as too feminine. Earlier this year an African-American transgender woman was severely beaten by two on-duty Memphis police officers; she was recently found murdered. Ten years after Matthew Shepard was assaulted and left to die tied to a Wyoming fence post, our nation has yet to say that anti-gay violence is unacceptable.

The time has come for all Americans -- including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans -- to truly be equal in the eyes of our government. We demand our full measure of civil rights; we demand equality.

We are neighbors and family members, prostitutes and preachers, soldiers and stylists, your employees and employers, and the unemployed. We want nothing more than our part of the American dream - the freedom to strive for our utmost without living in fear of murder or mutilation. We want the right to keep our jobs and our homes. We want the ability to serve our nation honorably. Most of all, we want the acknowledgment of our families as equal to other families in America.

Mr. President, not one of your predecessors has had the courage to demand that Congress recognize the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Instead, previous Presidents outlawed recognition of our relationships, allowed us to serve our nation only if we hid our orientation, did as little as possible to deal with HIV/AIDS, tacitly approved of hate crimes against us, and actively fought legislation to protect us from employment discrimination.

But we note the many promises that you made to the LGBT community during your campaign, and your courageous mention of us during your first speech as President-Elect. We hope and trust that you will keep those promises.

Sincerely,

The LGBT Community

Big thanks to Patricia Nell Warren and Sara Whitman for their input and help in shaping and editing the open letter.


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and -- yes -- sexual orientation.

I'm not crazy about the -- yes -- part, but otherwise I would have signed it. It is a good letter.

I'd sign it.
Something tells me that there will be need for many such letters in the coming years in order to keep the new president aware of our sentiments AND our numbers.

Allan Brauer | November 18, 2008 5:56 PM

Nice job. Short and sweet and to the point, and not bogged down with laundry lists of demands.

I am so pleased with the change.gov statement.

What a breath of fresh air it will be to continue the ground-level dialogue about LGBTQ equality with an Executive branch of the government that does not actively oppose our agenda and our very existence.

Dear Mr. President-Elect,
I would like to add something special to this letter as a member of the transgender community. On Thursday, November 20, 2008, we will be holding our yearly Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the tenth year and each time we come together across the world to remember the transgender people who have been murdered over the last year. This year, we will be reading 30 names.

In this beautiful letter to you from the LGBT Community, you read the importance of hate crime legislation. Over the last ten years, we have averaged 25 names of transgender people murdered because of hate. In one year, one of them was a friend of mine. The LGBT community faces violence weekly, and transgender people daily. All we want is to stop burying our friends. Please help us.

Thank you for your time.

Monica F. Helms
President of the Transgender American Veterans Association.

Being a non-American, I tend to have to stay out of a lot of these things, but it is lucid, direct and reasonable. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you and if I can ever do more, let me know.

Reformed Ascetic | November 19, 2008 1:06 AM

Personally, I would avoid some language in the third paragraph that sounds like you would ask for the free speech of others to be limited. Because it will be used by opponents to justify rumors of the gay agenda planning to attack free speech. I would personally probably expand the parts of that paragraph about the nature of equality, and facing calls for violence and public (rather than private) discrimination.

But in essence, what's not to agree with.

I would be happy to sign.

JUANITA IZABAL | December 16, 2008 4:34 PM

OK YOU WOULD OF NOT N3V3R WON IF IT WAZNT FOR US TH3 M3XICANZ AND NOW YOU WANT TO S3ND TH3M BACK TO M3XICO
BUT I NO WAT OK WHO AR3 TH3 ON3 WHO FUCKIN CL3AN YOU YARD PAINT YOUR HOUS3 DO AL TH3 FUCKIN CUSTURUCTION IN TH3 U.S WHO PICK3Z YOUR FRIUT UHHHHHH...US M3XICANS AND ALSO WHO COOKZ TH3 AM3RICANZ FOOD SO TH3Y CAN 3AT UHHHH....SIT SUR3 AINT UR AM3RICAN P3OPL3
W3 ALL CAM3 TO AM3RICA TO FIND A B3TT3R LIF3 TO RAIS3 THI3R KIDZ TO FIND A FUCKIN JOB SO YOUR KIDZ COULD HAV3 A B3TT3R LIF3 AND ALL UR FUCKIN AM3RICANZ WANT US TO L3AV3 W3LL UR DOIN RONG YOU F33L M3 UHHH....[MR PR3SID3NT OBAMA ]
I THOUGHT YOU WOULD B3 A GOOD PR3SID3NT BUT I GU3SS NOT ANYMOR3
I GOT MOR3 THINGZ TO WRIT3 BOUT BUT I AINT GONNA WAIST MY DAWM TIM3 WRITIN TO DO