Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Audacity of Silence

L.A. ex?

Here's the text of the open letter from Lorri L. Jean, the chief executive officer of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, to President Obama, who is visiting the Golden State right now. With the exception of capitalizing "president" in all uses, I sadly agree with everything:

Dear President Obama:

Welcome to California, Mr. President. I welcome you with a heavy heart because of the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Prop. 8, relegating same-sex couples to second-class status and denying us that most noble promise of America, “liberty and justice for all.”

You are arriving in Los Angeles on the heels of emotional demonstrations throughout California and our nation and your silence at such a time speaks volumes. LGBT people and our allies have the “audacity to hope” for a country that treats us fairly and equally and for a President with the will to stand up for those ideals. From you we expect nothing less.

We know the country faces many serious challenges and we have strived to be patient. We’ve waited for the slightest sign you would live up to your promise to be a “fierce advocate” for our equal rights while watching gay and lesbian members of the armed forces, who have never been more needed, get discharged from the military. And so far you have done nothing. No stop loss order. No call to cease such foolish and discriminatory actions that make our nation less safe.

You pledged to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Mr. President. You promised to support a “complete repeal” of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and pledged to advocate for legislation that would give same-sex couples the 1,100+ federal rights and benefits we are denied, including the same rights to social security benefits. You said, “Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples.”

What of those promises, Mr. President?

Your commitment to repeal DOMA has been removed from the White House website. Your promise to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was removed and then replaced with a watered-down version. And in the aftermath of yesterday’s California Supreme Court ruling, you have remained silent while your press secretary summarily dismisses questions about the issue.

We not only need to hear from our President, we need his action. And we need it now.

We need your words, Mr. President. But we also need your deeds. We expect you to fulfill the promises you made to us. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Do not delay, Mr. President. The time for action is now.


Lorri L. Jean
Chief Executive Officer
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center


Unknown said...

Ugh. This is so sad. This man really does not give a fuck about any GLBT issues. It is just sobering to realize we were duped.

Matthew said...

I don't think we were duped, Jeremy. It's five months in. (Yes, saying "it's X months in" gets old eventually, but...) I think it's possible to be disappointed with his inaction so far and be in support of lobbying him and protesting even without deciding already that he was some kind of secretly anti-gay candidate who lied his way into (only 60% of) the gay vote. I think he will come through, but there's nothing wrong with expressing our displeasure and not letting him forget. If he were to suddenly flip-flop on DOMA, if he simply never addresses Don't Ask, Don't Tell...then I think we move from disappointment to wondering if we were duped. As he said in L.A. last night, "ya ain't seen nothing yet." Maybe literally true on gay issues only, but also a seeming promise to continue doling out change.