H. Alexander Robinson

No. 44: A Cause for Celebration

Filed By H. Alexander Robinson | January 19, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Alexander Robinson, Barack Obama, LGBT, LGBT community, Obama and LGBT rights, Obama and race, Obama Inauguration, president, Prop. 8, religion

The inauguration of Barack H. Obama as the 44th president of the United States is cause for pride and hopefulness for America and the world. Sen. Obama's campaign heralded a transformational message of progressive change. His very election, as the first American president of African descent alone marks a consequential transformation in our nation's long and shameful history of racial discrimination, injustice and prejudice.

Finally, America may move past our debilitating culture wars about religion and race. Yet during the campaign and in the days and weeks that have followed, these self-perpetuating American family quarrels have not gone peacefully into the night.

Religion continues to be a flashpoint for discord especially when it comes to the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. A quick look at the voting patterns in California in favor of the anti-gay Proposition 8 shows that those who frequently attended church services were more likely to vote against full equality for same-sex couples.

Moreover, President-elect Obama himself gave a pass to religious bigotry in his rationale for opposing marriage while claiming the moniker of a fierce advocate for gay rights.

Likewise, in the aftermath of Prop 8 and during the campaign, racism reared its ugly head. The blogosphere was full of racist rants about Barack Hussein Obama's heritage, his church and his pastor. Many white LGBT people, rightly angered by the passage of anti-gay ballot measures, lashed out with racist recriminations against blacks who voted in favor of taking away our civil rights in California.

Yet, I believe that President Obama will preside over the greatest expansion of civil rights for gay Americans we have witnessed in our lifetimes. The presence of an African-American man and his family in the White House will enhance our national consciousness about race in America and provide an example of the strong parenting and supportive communities needed to improve the condition of black America.

If the Obama presidency is to be truly transformational, it must be a time of new ideas and substantive changes in our society. Getting health care and treatment to Americans living with HIV must be a priority for a transformational movement for justice. Ameliorating the ignorance, fear and bigotry that fuels anti-LGBT sentiment and has led to the killing and abuse of transgender people should have no place in the world.

Indeed, the elevation of Barack Obama to the presidency brings with it more joy and even more expectations. Obama has made it clear that the community has to work together if we hope to achieve our goals. None of the talk about changing Washington and eliminating big money influence will amount to anything if we, the people, walk away and hope that someone else is going to do the heavy lifting.

My hope for the next 100 days is that we get off to a running start. Congress must act to pass hate crimes legislation and begin the discussions about passing federal protections for LGBT people in the workplace. The White House must immediately get to work to develop a comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy by installing a director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy with the experience, influence and insider access necessary to drive the process. And the marriages of gay Americans should count in the 2010 Census.

To achieve these goals will take presidential leadership and Obama's well-documented ability to inspire, organize and bring people together in common cause.

Of course, there is the recession, the multiple wars and other international humanitarian crises and conflicts. These issues will be on the top of the Oval Office desk and LGBT Americans in the White House and throughout the nation will play a role in bringing about resolutions.

At times, it will be tough to keep our agenda of change and full equality on the table. There will be calls for compromise and we will undoubtedly be asked to postpone our priorities. We can expect our opponents to use LGBT people and our rights as a tool to distract and confuse our fellow Americans into believing that we are a threat. Our job is to speak truth.

In the meantime, we are considerably overdue for a reason to celebrate, and there's nothing more significant than what we Americans have done by electing Barack Obama president of the greatest nation in the world.

Take this moment to breathe in the promise of a land where it is the content of one's character that matters most.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

I am of a certain age. I was 14 years old when JFK was assassinated. I lived in India during the first Indian-Pakistan war and attended the state funeral of Shastri who died at Tashkent immediately after signing a Peace Accord there. I met Indira Ghandi there, actually had dinner with her. She was assassinated. Bhutto was assassinated. Although India is the largest democracy in the world, the US did not support it then and still does not.

I returned to the US during the height of the anti-war and civil rights movements, the birth of "Women's Lib" was active in all three. Got "clean for Gene", watched in horror the murders of Bobby and Martin as they happened on tv. It occurs to me that this day that honours Dr. King and is the last day in office of the worst criminal ever to be a head of state in my lifetime is one I cannot celebrate because all my life experiences tell me that our best, our brightest and those that inspire hope in others are killed violently and this is now so ingrained in my psyche I openly fear for Obama and thus cannot celebrate what should be a historic day. If you inspire hope, the right kills you.

Racism is still alive and well in the US.
Women still have not achieved true equality and the Equal Rights Amendment was never made the law of the land.
Religious fundamentalism is still on the rise and threatening not just the US but the entire world.

I still have no actual equal rights for my religion, my gender, my sex or my sexual orientation. Although I am descended from some of earliest settlers in the US and Amer-Indians, two were victims of the Salem witch trials. One had all his land taken away for "going native" after writing the book that inspired the settlement of New England. Although I count among my ancestors John and John Quincy Adams, my entire life I have found myself at odds with my own country for basic, fundamental civil rights for myself and others and my country's open betrayal, most of my life, of the principles it was founded on and supposedly stands for and I passionately believe in. I have spent a lifetime being considered an enemy of the state by my own country for believing in those things. I am still fighting the state for basic equality of treatment for my religion.

I cannot celebrate........

I never thought I'd see an African American in the Presidency. It's heaven on earth.
What a guy: smart, cool, and elegant. And what an opportunity for us. If Obama is successful in fixing this mess, it will be a huge moral victory for liberlaism, and for us all. And I intend to do everything I can to help.

I never thought I'd see an African American in the Presidency. It's heaven on earth.

Me either, Wilberforce, but let's not play up the Messiah complex, eh? People already have too high of expectations for the poor man.

None of the talk about changing Washington and eliminating big money influence will amount to anything if we, the people, walk away and hope that someone else is going to do the heavy lifting.

There's the heart of the matter, and thank you for stating it again in the context of an excellent post. We all have work to do, and we can be thankful, I think, that we have someone in the White House we can work with and who will work with us.

Yes indeed it is a cause for celebration. Barack Obama is one of the few international male, black superstars that we have never seen grabbing his crotch, calling his woman a bitch and a ho', pretending to be a con artist, a drug addict, a prisoner? His experience as a black man redefines how we view black men and how they succeed. His mixed race heritage allowed him to have a different experience in order to rise to the Presidency of the United States. Would we have a black President in the White House if he was raised by a single black mother rather than an educated white mother teaching him and comparing anthropological differences with the peoples of the world. Read of her influence in his book Audacity of Hope.

It's a figure of speech. Hello.

Oh hip hip hooray, yet another corporate politician takes the reins of power to lead our country to the 'promised land'.

Ho hum.

He is still just another sleazy, slimey, lying piece of bottom feeding pond scum who has been bought and paid for by all the wrong people who just want to protect their tax breaks and off shore accounts.

So he is black, last I looked no color has a lock on being honest. In fact, if he was honest, he wouldn't have gotten elected in the first place.

Don't worry, I have pretty low expectations for any of these weasles. They would only have been lower if it had of been McCain.