Cantwell: An Open Letter to President Obama
- May. 14, 2012
- 297 Comments
I, like millions of other Americans, am ecstatic about your formal announcement affirming your belief that same sex couples should be able to get married. Especially in response to North Carolina’s ban defining marriage as between a man and a woman, a strong executive support of part of the LGBT community is a positive step in the right direction for American political discourse.
But, Mr. Obama, I want to emphasize that this is not enough. While this reflects a significant shift in the political discourse of our nation, gay marriage is incredibly minuscule compared with many of the challenging issues currently facing the LGBT community.
What are these challenges, you ask? Let me remind you. According to the Center for American Progress, between 320,000 and 400,000 gay and transgender youth are homeless due to their sexual and/or gender identity. Between 2008 and 2010, 539 individuals were reportedly murdered for being transgendered. Nearly 37 percent of LGBT youth have reported attempting suicide, with 58 percent of youth reporting having suicidal thoughts.
And yet, these issues represent only the beginning of the vast social inequalities of this nation. Declaring that you think same sex couples should be able to get married is great, but it does nothing to alleviate these issues.
As a moderate, socially aware, Midwestern woman, I am scared for the future of this country. Everywhere I turn, I seem to encounter new measures that limit the rights and freedoms of women and the LGBT community. I understand that you are a politician. I understand that you have campaign investors from an entirely different generation of this country. But I beg you, President Obama, please make an attempt to at least acknowledge these issues on a level above the relative triviality of marriage.
I believe in the power of grassroots movements — in fact, I think this is a major reason why you have even publically acknowledged that women should have control over their bodies and that marriage equality should exist. But history has repeatedly shown that in the instance of individual rights, government support and action is a necessary evil.
I’m not asking for sweeping reforms. I’m not even asking for any legislative initiatives. I’m simply asking for rhetorical support and acknowledgment by this administration on a level beyond what is politically advantageous or convenient for you.
Yes, I will certainly still vote for you this fall. Yes, I will continue to support a number of your policies. But when your campaign faces little risk of a loss (spoiler alert, GOP fans), you can afford to live up to your 2008 slogan of “Change We Can Believe In.”
President Obama, I believe in you. I WANT to believe in you. Please, don’t let my generation — and me — down.