Michael Crawford

Equality costs and right here is where we start paying in sweat

Filed By Michael Crawford | September 09, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement

You've likely seen the recent comments from Steve Hildebrand, deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, about the lack of progress on LGBT equality at the federal level.

"The problem is, Obama isn't listening enough," Hildebrand said, according to the report. "I love him, I love Michelle, I want him to succeed, but all of us need to put pressure on him and Congress to do the right things. The American people put confidence in the Democrats because they thought we could get things done, and if we fail, they're not going to give it back."

But, it's not just well known organizers and activists like Hildebrand who are expressing impatience with the pace of progress on LGBT rights. It's also people like Zack Rosen, co-founder of The New Gay, who wrote an open letter to the president.

When we elected you last November, you stood in Grant park and said you planned to help all Americans, "Gay and Straight." When I walked home down 18th street that night, holding my boyfriends hand, strangers kept looking at us and shouting that. "Gay AND straight." It was the most comfortable I've ever felt being gay on 18th St. You did that. More recently, the panhandlers in Gallery Place have been saying "Obama" to us when they see us kiss on the street corner. There's no judgment in it. They just acknowledge that we have as much a place here as they do. You did that.

But really, that's all you've done. If three little words in an inauguration speech can touch people so much, imagine what would happen if you passed a law? Allowed us to get married or serve in the army? Why, people would have to start treating us as equals.

In order to get those laws passed that Zack calls for and that so many in our community desperately need, we must look not only to the president, but also to ourselves.

We must do more than wait for President Obama to save us. We have to save ourselves.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't look to the president for leadership. We should. But, we can't rely on him solely to provide equal rights for LGBT Americans.

Some may have taken the phrase "we are the ones we've been waiting for" as pretty campaign rhetoric. I took it, and continue to take it, as a challenge to do the work necessary to realize the change I want to see in the world.

To riff off Debbie Allen from the opening credits of the TV show Fame, "You've got big dreams. You want equality. Well, equality costs and right here is where we start paying in sweat."

What are you doing today to work up the sweat necessary to achieve full equality for LGBT people?

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