A few days ago, we in the LGBTQIA community heard the following words: “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
A simply sentence, a simply opinion, just 11 words. In fact many folks, me included, have said those exact same words.
Yet, the impact of our words compared to this statement from the other day, from no less then the President of the United States pale in their impact.
For the first time in the history of the United States, a sitting President has said to me, to my sisters and brothers: our relationships are valid!
Of course the responses to these 11 words were immediate.
As one might expect from the religious and political right the reaction was anything but kind, , or acknowledging of the deep soul searching it took to say these words.
However, it is with sadness and frustration that some of the responses from the other side of the political and religious spectrum have not been much better.
Now remember my opening for this blog as you read these quotes:
“Less than 24 hours after Obama came out for marriage equality, organizers from GetEQUAL from all over the country came together to thank the president, but remind him that actions speak louder than words, and there is more to equality and justice.”
Similarly, a friend of mine looked me dead in the eye and said, “He doesn’t really mean it. It is just political, it is not that big of deal.”
And this gem from the Log Cabin Republicans: “That the president has chosen today … to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous. Obama announced his position a day after North Carolina voters amended their state’s constitution to define marriage only as a union between one man and one woman.”
This headline from the blog gawker.com: “Barack Obama’s Bullshit Gay Marriage Announcement.”
My dear friend and Sister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge had this to say: “I know people are pissed with me for not properly bowing and genuflecting when President Obama finally made the no-brainer of a decision to support marriage equality…Thank you, Mr. President for you decision. Greatly appreciate that you’ve come into the 21st century. But, all it does is guarantee that we will not talk about the real issues our country faces, because the media loves the anti-gay circus so very much.”
So yes, I recognize the obvious questions follow such an announcement in a political year —why now? Is this hot air or truth?
In this day when a politician’s words no longer really mean all that much, do we believe this statement?
Of course there is the ever present activist question in our community — WHERE DO WE GO AND WHAT DO WE DO FROM HERE?
I believe that this is a step forward with immeasurable benefits both in the short term and the long term. It is yet one more building block to add on to what so many of our community have put in place with so much effort in to building towards true equality.
We need to pause and take stock of where we really are, what we have to work with, and then lay plans as to where we can go from here.
For us older more jaded folks these 11 words give us the sense that we are being heard and change is coming. More slowly then we would like, but it is coming.
For the younger generation these 11 words say they count and they are worthy.
Think of that 14 year gay kid who hears the President of the United States say those 11 words and decided suicide is not the answer.
Much as a river running through the land ever so slowly changes the landscape, these 11 words have changed the landscape for the LGBTQIA community for the good.
So regardless of political preference, ideology or party, we owe this President of the United States a debt of gratitude for the first time in history to saying, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Those 11 words have changed the landscape of this country forever and there is no turning back.
Thank you Mr. President!