Dear Mr. President, It's Time for You to Step Up

Dear President Obama:

Three recent decisions in federal court have declared unconstitutional, state and federal laws that discriminate against gay Americans. From the federal Defense of Marriage Act, to Proposition 8 in California and now the federal embarrassment, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the courts are helping to change the course of history and bring an end to laws that are rooted in hatred and bigotry.

With all respect due a sitting president, it appears that you are on the wrong side of history. That moral arc of history of which you often speak, is indeed now bending toward justice, but unfortunately when it comes to full and equal rights for gay Americans, it is doing so without your help.

I voted for you. Actually, I did much more than simply cast my vote for you. I actively campaigned, donated money to your campaign and rallied my friends and family to support you. I believed you felt that every American citizen should be treated equally and fairly. After almost a decade of a President whose policies and administration perpetuated discrimination toward gays and lesbians, I was hopeful and ecstatic that we were on the cusp of electing a President who truly valued all Americans and would fight to protect our equal rights.

Almost twenty-one months into your term, however, I am perplexed and must ask a few simple questions of you. Do you believe in equal rights for all Americans--including gay Americans? If so, why do you continue to publicly oppose equal marriage rights for gay Americans and instead blindly tout your belief that civil or domestic partnerships should be viewed as "good enough?" This is completely in the vein of "separate but equal." And we all know that when it comes to equal rights, separate is never equal. Period.

Why Mr. President did your position change on this matter? A few short years ago when you were running for the state Senate in Illinois, you stated very clearly and unequivocally in a questionnaire that you supported gay marriage. Why did you move backward as opposed to forward, like former Vice President Dick Cheney?

Politics aside, when the President of the United States puts out a public statement to the press -- repeated through top aides like David Axelrod -- reassuring the world that he believes that gay people should not be allowed to get married, he is sending a terribly damaging message to every country that it is okay to discriminate against its own citizens.

Furthermore, this undercuts anything that our State Department may say about human rights to other nations; to say nothing of the permission it gives to practice homophobia in every country.

America has no right to take a moral high ground regarding human rights when even Catholic-centric countries are ahead of the U.S. in providing equal rights to their gay and lesbian citizens.

At one of your campaign speeches, you looked me in the eye as you asked that we hold your feet to the fire. So Mr. President, I will. I implore you to assure me--and the millions of other gay Americans who, like me, invested so much time and energy and hope in electing you--that our vote was not wasted.

Stand up publicly for equal rights for all Americans. Or at least offer an explanation for why you won't. After the midterm elections in November, your reelection campaign begins in earnest. If you want our full support, we need to know what side of history you will be on.


Scott Sanders