Forward. Backward.

- The Wishful Writer

Last night, this country and one man rendered me: speechless, emotional, proud, invigorated, hopeful, determined, heard, triumphant, tearful and peaceful.

Barack Obama. The 44th president of the United States of America.

The LEADER of our country, the same country who would have denied him the right to vote, based on his skin color, had he been born before 1870 and the passing of the 15th amendment.

The significance of this achievement can not be denied.

Not that he deserved the presidency based on skin color. He didn't. Just like Sarah Palin didn't deserve my vote simply because we share the same anatomy.

My point is we'd be remiss not to stop and reflect on how far we, as a nation, have come in seeing PAST the color of a person's skin - so that we may hear his or her voice instead.

I realize that while much of the nation celebrates this morning, there is a large percentage of people who did not vote for Obama who are disappointed, scared, angry and worried about the safety and direction of our country. Both mine and April's families are among that group and I respect their concerns and sincerely hope Obama serves them in ways they don't anticipate, and surprises them by governing with their concerns in mind.

For the first time, in a victory speech, a President included ME, as a gay person, in his remarks.

He said:

"It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

He didn't trip over the word GAY. It didn't sound dirty. Or Shameful. It sounded...like it belonged.

Here's his victory speech, one of the most humbling, inspiring, eloquent speeches I've ever heard. (You'll have to endure the commercial first, sorry).

Watch CBS Videos Online

Obama's appeal and promise of CHANGE was enough to turn Republican strongholds the color blue. Last night was the first time in forty years the state of Virginia voted democratically. Florida and North Carolina also switched things up, voting for Obama.

Those voters agreed that his platform, not his skin color, was the issue. Their vote proved there is no place for discrimination in the White House.

However, thousands of people who are this morning patting themselves on the back because they helped elect the first African American president, also voted to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into the Constitution.

The irony is painful.

How can we travel so far forward AND backward in the same night?

Voters in Arkansas said gays and lesbians can't be foster parents. I know, without a doubt, April and I would provide a loving, stable, strict and safe environment for any child - whether it was biological, adopted or fostered. To suggest children are better off left in "the system" than with us is insulting, hurtful and punishes children who long for the stability that many loving same-sex couples could provide. Shame on you Arkansas. Shame on you. (Anyone who doubts the type of home a gay or lesbian could provide need only visit Lori's blog. She adopted two special needs kids and they are thriving.)

Voters in Florida and Arizona said no, same sex couples can't marry. Voters in California voted YES on Prop 8, stripping the rights of gay couples who until today, could get married anywhere in the state. My friends Heather and Chelsea have been married a little more than a week. Now, California, the state that recognized and blessed their union, is telling them the love they share is a second-class love, not worthy of the same type of respect and protection given to heterosexual couples.

Separate, not equal.

Sounds familiar, right?

A little like the road traveled by others facing discrimination based on race or gender...

Forward. Backward.


Renee Gannon said...

Your article resonates so deeply.

California, a self-professed "liberal" state has just taken one giant leap in the wrong direction and for the first time ever, has made me feel regret for moving away from MA and coming to live in CA instead.

California, I had such high hopes that you would do the right thing and now you have let me and so many others down.

What do you have to say for yourself?

Sinnerviewer said...

It wasn't until 1990 that Alabama, the last state in the union to do so, voted to allow interracial marriage. Yes, not until 1990 could two people of different races legally marry. It's up to gay and lesbian voters to educate the masses that gay marriage isn't a threat. We need to do a better job representing ourselves to the public. We need to start now.

Renee Gannon said...

You are so right, Sinnerviewer. We need to show America that the LGBTQI community isn't about flagrant, promiscuous sex. We are real people who have real relationships with real, loving families, who pay real taxes and live their lives like any other normal person.

We deserve more than we are getting. We deserve equality.

thewishfulwriter said...

I totally agree. It's why I am glad there are blogs, blogs that provide insight into our lives and illustrate we are NO different, our love is NO different.

I'm praying with everything I have that the millions of votes yet to be counted on Prop 8 are all marked NO. I thought it was decided, but I'm reading articles that say it's not QUITE over or decided. I'm hoping California showed up. I am, I am.

Wayne John said...

I had higher hopes for California, but there are those that have not opened their eyes to the bigger picture yet unfortunately.

One day we'll look back on the decisions regarding gay marriage and the other states decisions the same as we did womens rights and similar issues.

My heart is with all gay people, and while there was a victory with the presidency, there will one day be a victory for all gays as well.

I just don't understand why people care that much about the issue. I'm straight as an arrow, and I don't understand why people wear blinders like that anymore.

We'll get there!

Mr. Leigh said...

we must keep the faith.
10 years ago we were in the same place. Our margins are are progressing and our presence and support has grown so much in the last few years alone. I am confident we will have marriage rights some day soon.

Liz said...

As a young voter I believe that my generation will realize and will stand up for LGBT rights. My generation (I'm only 19) does not look at me like I am a mincous to society and they treat me with respect even tho I am fully out to everyone. I think once the older generations die off LGBT's will have their rights, everyone I've talked to on campus finds it absurb that prop 8 might win. I think in a couple decades (sooner I hope tho) we will have our rights. I can only hope that I will still be alive to see it and will be able to marry my beautiful girlfriend (whoever she may be) at that time.

Though I am not a fan of Obama I am still proud of the turn out to vote, I only hope that Obama can do this "HOPE" campaign in the white house as well. It will be an interesting next 4 years, and hopefully a good one.

Jul said...

It is an interesting day when a part of you thinks we are making progress as a nation, and another part of you is solidly reminded of how stifled we are.

KristinaK said...

Simply put- we will NOT give up!