Before the election, The Advocate asked me to write a letter to the Dem and GOP nominees for president. The magazine planned to feature missives from various well-known voices in the LGBT community; it was an interesting idea, since we didn't know the outcome of the election at the time. It appears in the latest issue of the magazine and it's online now.
You know, the thought of writing a letter to President-elect John McCain was so horrific that I simply couldn't get my fingers onto the keyboard to tap out anything. So I begged off until the deadline was almost upon me and was told I could submit the one for Obama since the polling was favoring the former Illinois senator. It took me a while to figure out what I was going to say to President-elect Obama at the time, but I'll leave it to you all to tell me if I hit the right note or not.
My letter is below the fold.
Dear President Obama,
You have made history with your election; our country, left in tatters after abuse by the last administration, is awaiting positive change. Millions of Americans gave to your campaign and dedicated countless hours of their time and energy to support you and other Democrats around the country. Many of these generous people are part of the LGBT community.
This year, the Democratic Party presented a forward-thinking platform on our issues, and you as the standard-bearer made unprecedented statements on what civil equality for LGBT Americans means. That said, the gulf between your support for civil unions and marriage, as you well know, is still a challenge for our community. As a constitutional scholar, you know that separate but equal is a folly when it comes to civil rights. But we also know that support for equality continues to rise.
There are many things you can do to help move this country in the right direction; as you have said, your personal religious beliefs are not what should guide your decisions on civil equality for all citizens of this land. Building bridges is your strong suit--I am sure that these efforts could help close that gap:
- Appoint qualified out LGBTs to prominent positions in your administration. We care about the economy, health care, and our military presence abroad; we are not a single-issue constituency.
- Use the bully pulpit of the presidency to grow support out in the country--and on the Hill--for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," the passage of the hate-crimes bill, and other equality legislation that is on the table.
The LGBT community is just one of dozens, if not hundreds, of constituencies that have been waiting out in the cold for regime change, and they are all hungry to have their progressive issues at the top of the list. We know that the issues we hold dear are fundamental rights, and we also know that you have been left with an almost impossible list of issues that need urgent attention, given the debacle of eight years under Bush. We are eager to see what you believe should be the top issues on your agenda.
We are ready to move forward and plan to stay visible--and assertive--in working with the Obama administration and the next Congress to secure rights for all.
You and your family will restore dignity to the White House and the United States of America. Good luck, Mr. President.
Durham, N.C.-based blogger
Here are some of the other contributors to the project, I was in really impressive company:
Tammy Baldwin, Democratic member of Congress from Wisconsin
Daniel Tammet, author of Born on a Blue Day
Evan Wolfson, Executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry
Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign
Melissa Etheridge, singer-songwriter
Michelangelo Signorile, radio host and author of Queer in America
Tammy Bruce, radio talk-show host and author of The New American Revolution
Kenji Yoshino, professor at New York University School of Law and the author of Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights
Vestal McIntyre, author of ?You Are Not the One and the forthcoming Lake Overturn
Jarrett Lucas, codirector of the 2008 Soulface Q Equality Ride
Michael Lowenthal, author of Charity Girl and Avoidance
Suzanne Westenhoefer, comedian and star of the documentary A Bottom on Top
Jim Buzinski, CEO and cofounder of Outsports.com
Perez Hilton, blogger, radio host, and television personality
Carole Midgen, former California state senator
Pam Spaulding, Durham, N.C.-based blogger
Paris Barclay, Executive Producer/Director HBO's In Treatment
Lorri L. Jean, CEO, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center
Jeffrey Prang, Mayor of West Hollywood
Jorge Valencia, Executive director and CEO of Point Foundation
Mark Leno, California assemblyman
The Reverend Doctor Troy D. Perry, founder and moderator emeritus, Metropolitan Community Churches\
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Donna Rose, transgender activist
Peter Tatchell, LGBT human rights campaigner and spokesman for OutRage!
Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality