Dear President-Elect Donald J. Trump:
You have won the electoral vote and, in turn, you are the presumptive winner of the presidency of the United States of America. Today, there are Americans who are celebrating this victory with you while others, like me, feel uncertain about the future and, in turn, feel fear, anger, and sadness, because our status as Americans under your administration is unclear.
Now that you have secured the presidency and are burdened with the great honor of leading the world’s oldest democracy, I hope you recognize the tremendous mantle you now carry. It is the very nature and weight of your office that I hope will compel you to reflect on the statements you have made regarding many Americans like myself. In fact, I hope one of your first actions as President-Elect of the United States will be to ask for forgiveness or at the very least transform your campaign’s divisive rhetoric into a call for unity that appeals to all Americans without exception.
On a personal note, I would like to share with you some fears and concerns I have regarding the impact your policy positions, and those of the Vice President-Elect, could have on my life and the lives of those I care most about.
As a gay American, I am concerned by your pledging to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would seek to reverse the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges -- the landmark case that made marriage equality the law of the land. I’m equally afraid that you will appoint justices who will undermine the other historic cases on the path to equality for LGBTQ Americans including Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas. As you assume the responsibility for preserving and upholding the Constitution of the United States of America, I hope that you will recognize that justices who seek to rewrite our nation’s history on LGBTQ rights will in effect shred some of our Constitution’s most cherished principles and protections. In addition to the Supreme Court, and as you get to know LGBTQ Americans like myself, I hope that you will be a voice for equality in the workplace. I don’t expect this evolution to come overnight, however, I do respectfully request that you and Mr. Pence take the time to listen to the stories of past and current workplace discrimination and the negative impact that such has had on the economic vitality of our communities and country. I hope, too, that you will realize that permitting discrimination in the delivery of goods and services under the veil of “religious freedom” is a threat to a vibrant, free, and inclusive society.
Regarding the rights of women, I ask you will look into the eyes of your granddaughter and see the same creativity and desire to succeed that I see in the eyes of my niece. As you work to put your own mark on the nation’s economy, please consider the impact that “equal pay for equal work” would have on both productivity and innovation. I also pray that the justices you appoint to the Supreme Court will not be activist judges who seek to rewrite accepted case law, but rather thoughtful legal minds who will respect our nation’s judicial history, especially with regards to the rights of women. Although Americans may disagree on the question of abortion, the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade very rightly places that question in the conscience of the individual rather than having the answer be dictated by society at-large.
On the question of my Muslim brothers and sisters, I hope you will reflect on our nation’s past errors and realize that any ban would be contrary to our values as Americans and would undermine the global struggle for human rights and peace-building. As a nation, it is time for us to foster thoughtful dialogue between our communities of faith so as to create a culture of true understanding rather than views forged solely in fear of the unknown. For this reason, I also hope that you will continue to remain committed to alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Syria and throughout the Middle East.
Throughout our nation, communities of color continue to experience poor relations with the police and, at the same time, our police are not provided with the training, resources, or mental health supports they need to best serve our municipalities. As the President-Elect, and soon-to-be President, I pray that you will make a national conversation on race a priority.
On a related note, this was the first presidential election in 50-years that did not have the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in place, because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder. I hope that you will work with leaders in Congress to pass a modern voting rights act that ensures every American is able to exercise his or her right to vote regardless of their race.
As the grandson of an Italian immigrant, I realize that our nation was founded on the rich contributions of those who traveled great distances for the promise of freedom. My grandfather, his parents, and siblings came to America with great hope in 1935, a hope that through three generations continues to be realized in new and different ways. I hope that you will put aside hurtful rhetoric and take up the greatest power that truly great leaders possess: Listening. Please listen to the stories of immigrants and understand the struggles they endure both in their countries of birth and on their journey to the United States. As an educator, I have immigrants and children of immigrants in my classroom each semester and I can tell you that they are a gift to the United States -- they yearn to achieve the American dream, but more importantly, they are contributing to the great fabric that is America.
The fabric is further enriched and strengthened by the contributions of Americans with developmental differences and disAbilities. As President, I hope you will invest in the innovative programs and services across the country that support individuals with developmental differences and disAbilities in realizing their full potential. We must ensure that equal opportunity is a priority for all communities and people of all abilities. We must also ensure that no one undermines their dignity as human beings.
The feelings from yesterday’s election are still raw as is the pain from some of the comments you have made throughout this election; however, I hope that the magic of this office will fill you with a sense of its awesomeness and encourage you to speak about all Americans in a way that highlights their remarkable and unique contributions.
As an educator, an advocate for disAbility rights, a gay person, and an American, I will continue to fight to protect the rights we have secured for marginalized communities, I will struggle for the rights yet to be won, and I will demand of you a leadership and character that I pray you are capable of and prepared to assume. None of us are perfect, however, out of 300 million Americans only one of us has been elected President of the United States and it is for that reason that it is up to you to lead by example and leverage your network of surrogates to begin the long struggle towards unity and reconciliation. As the President-Elect it is incumbent upon you, and you alone, to begin the difficult task of mending the torn fabric of America. This mending will not be accomplished in a single speech or a series of speeches, but rather by your actions and words in all that you do.
Our nation has turned the page on a new chapter, it’s a chapter that still frightens me as it threatens to undermine my personhood and that of millions of Americans; however, as you begin to prepare to take-up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I can only hope that this letter makes you reflect on the pain you have caused many, but the incredible opportunity before you to turn away from the politics of division and instead toward the work of healing.
May the words emblazoned on the great seal of our country ring true: "E pluribus unum."