Obama revives hope for LGBT equality

Nathan Lawrence

Due to the circulation cycle of this paper, President Barack Obama’s statement in support of gay marriage will likely be old news by the time you read this; it basically is at press time. However, the importance of this statement cannot be forgotten.

In a country that spends so much of its time subjugating people based on gender, race, class and sexual orientation, the occasional statement in favor of removing some of this discrimination is refreshing.

Unfortunately, some of the responses to Obama’s statement are less than refreshing. While Newsweek put out a shocking issue with a headline calling Obama “America’s first gay president,” — while the article itself did not assert this point — pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly turned their vitriolic focuses away from the president himself and to the issue of homosexuality, making unsubstantiated blanket statements and spewing outright abuse toward the gay community. I still don’t understand why this hate speech is not met with greater public outcry.

However, even this cannot match the disturbing ignorance put forth in a statement by Bristol Palin — Dancing with the Stars contestant and daughter of the high-profile conservative politician Sarah Palin — made on Patheos.com, a religious discussion website.

Palin’s statement had an uncharacteristically bellicose tone, explaining that Obama was in fact not a true leader, and that a true leader would have explained to his children and to the world that gay partnerships were morally untenable instead of making “a massive change in a policy decision that could affect the entire nation after consulting with his teenage daughters.”

Both of these remarks are not only ignorant, but deeply offensive to Obama and the people he stood up for. Just because Obama mentioned his children when speaking about the issue of gay marriage does not mean that they made the decision for him, nor does it make him a bad leader.

Leaders do not merely stand up for the status quo, as Palin is suggesting; leaders push issues forward and make changes where needed. It is a true testament to Obama’s qualities as a leader that he was willing to recognize the need for change in this situation.

I haven’t been entirely satisfied with Obama’s performance over the last four years; many of the changes which he promised so vehemently during the campaign seemed to be swept under a rug and forgotten.

Obama has failed to be a passionate leader or rallying figure over issues like net neutrality, education reform, nuclear disarmament, and decreased military spending, issues which appeared incredibly important to him on the campaign trail.

I have spent many of the recent months doubting his ability to lead this country at all. There was no spark, no glint of hope in his eyes anymore; his firm beliefs seemed to have been crushed by the American political system.

However, in that sweet moment when he announced his views on gay marriage, that glint was back in his eyes. He was a leader again — ready to conquer the opposition with strong progressive ideology.

Was this political trickery, meant to convince people like me that he was as capable as he once seemed? Perhaps, but I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Obama gave me hope for this country once more, and this time he did even better: He gave me hope for LGBTQ supporters like me all around the country, clamoring for their equal treatment.

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