By: Nicole Lashomb/Editor-in-Chief-
On October 1, President Barack Obama took center stage at the 15thAnnual HRC National Dinner as a guest speaker. It took me back to his early campaign years where the masses were moved, energized and inspired by his optimistic words. That night was no different.
Once the address was over, it invigorated even my own personal efforts in fighting for equality, which is a fight that will likely take decades or longer to achieve. If only I was born today, perhaps I would know what it meant to live in a bias-free America. Or, perhaps that is too optimistic. Regardless, I’m in the fight for at least this life-time.
Recently, one of the Republican Presidential debates was broadcasted on practically every major news station around the country. I was deeply disturbed, particularly when a gay soldier posed a question to the candidates about the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and sickeningly, audience members booed him, as if living his “lifestyle,” according to them, was somehow in violation of their rights or righteousness. That night, I was perplexed and disappointed in the Republican audience and the mentality of certain citizens of our country. Not only does the Republican party typically oppose anything that is not majority driven (Caucasian, straight, and male), but then the audience thought it was acceptable to boo a patriot who was keeping their “beloved country,” as many of them claim, safe from harm’s way. To make it worse, the candidates themselves, one of which could become the leader of this country, never condemned such an action. The vow of silence speaks loudly. The President shared his thoughts about the un-patriotic forum as well in his speech.
“We don’t believe in a small America,” said President Obama. “We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s ok for a stage full of political leaders, where one of them could become president of the United States, being silent when an American soldier is being booed. We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens, we don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander-in-Chief; you can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient,” he said to a standing ovation.
He continued to fire-up the audience by reminding them of what exactly he has accomplished in the LGBT quest for equality. Some of those accomplishments include the enacting of the Matthew Sheppard Act, the implementation of LGBT hospital visitation and critical health-care decision making rights, a lift on the HIV travel ban, establishing the first comprehensive national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS, and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Additionally, he echoed his commitment to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
“There’s a bill to repeal this discriminatory law in Congress and I want to see that passed but until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts,” said the President as the crowd cheered. “I believe the law once countered the Constitution and it’s time for it to end once and for all. It should join ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the history books.”
To me, the choice for 2012 is clear. No matter who took office in 2008 or who takes it in 2012, the United States, under the reign of George W. Bush plummeted into a financial crisis when trillions worth of debt was incurred. It was only a matter of time before it caught up with us. So, if the American people are looking for a quick fix to the U.S. economy, it isn’t going to happen. After all, it took us 8 years to get into this mess in the first place. However, what I do know for certain is that I want an advocate for me, my family, and my friends that isn’t afraid to stand-up against adversaries, bullies, and politician mishaps. I want someone in office who believes in the good of ALL people and not just the privileged some and someone who will continue to fight diligently for the inalienable rights that we all deserve.
“Every American gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual transgender, every single American deserves to be treated equal in the eyes of the law and the eyes of society,” the President said. “It’s a pretty simple proposition.”