Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thank you, Mr. President

History. Such a simple word filled with infinite implications. Sometimes it creeps past softly, barely noticed until one day we dust of big books and find it hidden within the pages. Other times it happens right before our eyes, big and brash and bolder than we ever expected. Yesterday was one of those days. Yesterday we heard 11 words from a sitting United States President we had never heard before. Yesterday President Barack Obama said “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” Simple, clear, unmistakable. History.

Now, we can get caught up in the fine print of President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality – if we want to. He is late. He is not ending DOMA. He is still allowing states to vote on marriage right for themselves. True, true, true. But, you know what, I don’t care. I mean, I do care. I care a lot. But history gets told with broad brush strokes. The Emancipation Proclamation freed all the slaves. Well, close. Not all of them, just those in states under Confederate control. It wasn’t until two years later with the passage of the Thirteen Amendment that all slaves were freed and slavery became illegal across the country. But, you know, details. The Emancipation Proclamation was the big, brash, bold stroke that changed everything. The fine print work came later.

Now, I’m in no way suggesting that President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage yesterday was our Emancipation Proclamation, figurative or otherwise. But it is important not just because of its optics, but because of what it means on a personal level to every LGBT person in this country and across the globe. Never before has a President stood up and said our marriages are equal to straight people’s marriages. Never. But now, the most powerful man in the free world says we are the same. Says we deserve the same rights. Says love is love. Yesterday, I took a moment to let it sink in. And it felt, well, wonderful.

This is how a man evolves, this how our leaders evolve, this is how a nation evolves, this is how a world evolves. History is happening, don’t get left behind.

NOTE: As mentioned in the post, I am NOT comparing the President’s endorsement of same-sex marriage to the Emancipation Proclamation. They are not equal in historical import or impact. Not at all. I am comparing the historical perception of what the Emancipation Proclamation did (i.e. it ended all slavery in the United States) to what it actually did (it ended slavery in the confederate-controlled states, and then two years later the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery across the nation). I am not comparing the end of slavery to the granting of gay rights. I am saying that history is told in broad brush strokes not fine print. And what President Obama did yesterday was a broad brush stroke.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

"But it is important not just because of its optics, but because of what it means on a personal level to every LGBT person in this country and across the globe. Never before has a President stood up and said our marriages are equal to straight people’s marriages. "

With a President you mean American President right? As in the sentence prior you're talking about the globe but that would be ridiculous, as so many presidents around the world have stood behind this before.

McT said...

A turning point. I was surprised to feel emotional at this announcement. I don't require his stamp of approval, but it does allow for continued momentum in the "rights" direction.

Anonymous said...

I was very happy to hear President Obama saying his views had evolved and then to hear him say that same sex couples should be able to get married - wow!

It's nice to know that some of our politicians are forward thinking, particularly the current sitting President of the United States.

This is a stepping stone in the right direction towards hopefully having EQUALITY FOR ALL one day!

Your friend, Rusty said...

What a beautiful response to the "yes, buts . . . " that began as soon as his statement was released.

"I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice." Martin Luther King, Jr.

iampecola said...

Rachel Maddow's opening segment on the President's statements is worth watching, if you haven't already, but to address one thing, in short:

He is not ending DOMA. He is still allowing states to vote on marriage right for themselves.

He can't end DOMA, not unilaterally, but even prior to yesterday, he'd done everything within his power to stop it (the Emancipation Proclamation comparison is fraught with error from a historical POV). His administration voiced support for legislation introduced by Dianne Feinstein to repeal DOMA. The Department of Justice has stopped fighting DOMA cases in court and has taken the significant step of calling Section 3 unconstitutional.

Obama is, as Mara Keisling said recently, the best president we've ever had on LGBT issues...and there is no #2.

lisa said...

This is how a President LEADS. To now, he has followed. He has finally stepped into a leadership position on this issue. Bravo, Mr. President. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Props to Sasha and Malia: BO said they couldn't imagine that their friend's same-sex parents should be treated differently "and frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective."

For all the "but..." associated with this occasion it's good to remember that this may be one step but its certainly not small.

Sugar Free said...

I'm really glad he finally came out and said it. . .but I really have to question his timing.

We here in NC are dealing with the passage of Amendment One. The DAY AFTER it passed, he made his announcement. It felt like a giant slap in the face. Like, "I support gay marriage! Oooh, too bad for you guys in NC, though. That blows."

Lunakiss said...

I understand you're try to compare EP to yesterday's big historical announcement by President Obama and LGBT civil rights and I think you have to be very,very careful in doing that. I know its a favorite among white LGBT activists and media writers because you really nothing to compare LGBT movements to. Still, comparing slavery to not having equal rights is pretty far fetch other than that I like your post Ms. Surrenders