Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Future Looks Bright: Obama's Speech to Gay Rights Activists

As most of you have probably caught on, I am not much of a fan of President Barack Obama. I’ve given him a fair amount of criticism since he took office. Many of his policies and ideas I completely disagree with. However, having said that, tonight I feel proud (albeit reluctantly) to call him my president.

Knowing that his speech tonight was going to address a broad range of issues that affect the LGBT community, I made a point of watching it. I have to say I feel very reassured. President Obama made it clear that he is working to end discrimination against homosexuals, promising to end the ban on those with HIV from being allowed to immigrate to this country, to sign gay rights legislation, hate crimes legislation, and legislation to end the militaries policies of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and zero tolerance against gays actively serving. These are all things he promised to do when campaigning for the presidency last year, but had, to this point, shown little signs of wanting to follow through with. Tonight, however, I think he gave the strongest show of support for homosexuals any president we have ever had has shown. He made it clear that these are things he is actively working to do. And he actually talked in his speech as though he “gets” what homosexuals face and struggle with, and that he wants to improve the lives of homosexuals in this country. He addressed the fight for equality we are all seeking and hoping for, pointing out the Stonewall protests, the lack of benefits provided to spouses or partners of homosexuals, and the firing of thousands from their jobs because of their sexuality.

Here are a few quotes from President Obama’s speech that I found memorable and meaningful:

“None of us want to be defined by just one part of what makes us whole.”

“Our common ideals are a force far stronger than any division some might sew.”

“Together we will have moved closer to that day when no one has to be afraid to be gay in America.”

These quotes, I believe, signify that he understands our struggle, and that he is working to help us.

I hope our president is honest about his intentions. I hope he is truly committed to fighting for what is right. I’ll admit that I do not trust many politicians. Those I’ve trusted in the past all had a way of letting me down. But on these issues, I hope I can trust President Obama to do what he has said he will do, because if he is able to follow through with these promises, the lives of millions will be changed so dramatically for the better. If this president has ever inspired hope in me, it is to hope for that.

To read more about his speech, click here.

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