Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thank You, Mr. President

Perhaps I am still in a state of shock.  If anyone had asked me 5 years ago whether or not we would have a Black President in my lifetime, I would have said "I doubt it," or I would have said that "I think a White woman would get it long before a Black man (the idea of this country electing a Black woman President, is still one that I cannot envision, sadly)."  But if someone had asked me whether or not we would have a sitting President come out in favor of marriage equality (civil marriage equality), I would have said that "I would likely be a much older man, when something like that would happen." 

It was my mother who sent me a text letting me know that President Obama had come out for marriage equality, and she ended the text with a character created smile.  I was on the train returning from a business trip to Washington, when that text reached me, and I looked at it for about a minute, before I responded with, "Seriously?"  When I received her affirming second message, I fully admit that I started to tear up.  I sent a text to my cousin, who recently got engaged to his partner, letting him know this new development.  He responded back almost immediately, letting me know that he'd just heard.  I sat back in my seat, looked out onto the Virginia countryside streaming by, and just smiled.  And to be honest, it was even more profound for me that the nation's first Black President was the one to do it.  Even if he doesn't win re-election, nothing will change the fact that a sitting President came out for marriage equality.

It's been a week since this happened, and it's been fascinating watching the various reactions.  The typical "hateration" came from all of the typical corners.  However, I have to admit that I wanted to know how folks within the American Black church community would take Obama's announcement.  I fully admit to enjoying the prospect of that community trying to reconcile its love for the President with its antipathy (for the most part; there are several liberal Black church communities around the nation) for all things GLBT.  Mother's Day must have been an interesting day for sermons.  I'll also add that I think I recognize how Black folks must have felt when Sen. Kennedy called Coretta Scott King, when her husband was in prison, and when President Johnson expressed publicly why he pushed for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  Those were moments when a minority felt that those in real power actually had its back.  That is precisely how it felt to me, and I am sure many, many others, last Wednesday.

Now, I've certainly not been a shrinking violet, when it came to expressing my issues with President Obama and his dealings on GLBT issues.  I've noticed that some of Obama's true opponents have worked hard to dismiss this move as one of cynical politics, but it doesn't matter.  Coming out for marriage equality is a real act of political bravery, and I appreciate it more than he could ever know.  But, I hope Obama doesn't think that with this historic move he won't be pushed to do still more.  The "Defense" of Marriage Act is still a blight on the American landscape, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act still needs to be signed into law, just to name two things that will help to move this country forward.

But for what President Obama did a week ago, all I have to say is THANK YOU!!

1 comment:

happyjulie said...

Jeffrey, this is very moving. I can picture you on the train, staring out the window, letting it all sink in.

I had just been admonishing a friend on email that morning that we shouldn't be pushing Obama to take this step until after we get him reelected. But as soon as he did it, I knew it was the right thing.

I'm positive it was real, not a calculation, because it's honestly impossible to say what effect it will have on the campaign.

My brother wrote me that afternoon and said, "I can't really explain what I mean by this, but it's like now it doesn't even matter if he gets reelected." It was interesting to see you write something similar.