Category Archives: President Obama

State of the Union 2012


Whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, poor or wealthy, of one race or another, gay or straight, or any other category one can imagine, President Obama’s State of the Union address held one message that was more important for us to hear than any other part:

“Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.”  ~ President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012

At our best, we are a unified nation that allows for dissent, but always remembers that we all have one flag.  We do not compartmentalize the red stripes from the white stripes, the stars from the blue field.  It is one flag.  We can find as many ideas of how to make things better as we have American citizens, but we have forgotten something along the way.  Our leader must be at the front of that fight.

When I was a boy, my father and I would regularly be at loggerheads.  I, in my ridiculous arrogance, thought my father didn’t know what he was talking about.  I’d roll my eyes, and huff and puff whenever he said something that I imagined was said solely to embarrass me.  The one thing I always remembered, though, is that he was my father, our family leader.  I knew that he was always acting in the best interest of our family.  As I grew into adulthood, I learned to respect my father’s brilliance as a businessman, dynamic love as a grandfather, and his rock solid wisdom as a father.

A president is not a father, he is a national leader.  We have more room to question, argue, and rebut; however, we must also remember that until the time comes for us to change the individual inhabiting that office, he or she is still our president.  Our president still makes the rally call around the flag, and we as Americans should heed that call with grace and strength, all eyes moving forward toward success and happiness.

If one is not a part of the resolution; if one is not a part of the constructive conversation; if one is solely beating his breast in lamentation of what is wrong and why it went wrong, then he should step aside and make room for those who want to assist in the process.  Our stagnancy in Congress is an excellent example of what happens when we populate the houses of Congress with those who simply want to play the victims, and this means on both sides of the aisle.

Here is my message to Congress:  Ladies and gentlemen of the 112th Congress of the United States of America,

Lay down your weapons and pick up your plowshares.  You must stand next to one another and look forward rather than standing nose-to-nose, facing one another in unwavering arrogance.  How can you possibly see where we need to go if all you keep in your sight line is your colleague as an enemy.

In the mêlée that has been your legacy, find the voice of our leadership and listen.  Find the colors of the flag and remember who you are and why you are there.  Stop being petulant children, whining about what you don’t have, and remember that you serve the citizens of the United States for their betterment, not your aggrandizement.  To those who understand this constructive pattern, thank you for your invaluable service.
My mother used to say, “No matter who you are, whether a pauper or a prince, remember your place, and that you have a job to do.”  She was saying that everyone had something valuable to do, but to remember who you are in that moment.  If one is not the president, one should not attempt to govern as a president would.  If one aspires to be the president, work hard, focus on your goal, and attempt to achieve that position.  Until then, remember who you are and get your job done.  The last several congresses have not done this and it shows.  It’s time to renew our united focus on the flag and the purposes of the United States of America.

One final note to all public servants, Democrat, Republican, and otherwise – Even if you do not fully agree with the person who is currently president, or trust in his judgment, we the people of the United States of America chose him.  If you do not trust the wisdom of the American people, please leave your post, because we are the ones to whom you ultimately answer, and we are the ones who invited you to serve in the first place.

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Standing Before Congress


Something is troubling me mightily.  It must be, because I dreamt about it last night.  In my dream, I was invited to speak before a joint session of Congress on the current status of our country.  Now, this must have been a dream of the absurd, because certainly, no one would ever invite me to speak at that particular podium; and even if they did, what would I say?  More importantly, who would really want to listen?  But, speak I did.

Although I do not remember the full text of my speech, it carried this timbre:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

I normally would address you as “esteemed,” or “honorable,” but as a body, I don’t really think of you in that light anymore.  I am sorry to lump all of you into a faceless group irrespective of the truth of your individual characters, but perhaps for a change, you will understand how we feel now when you do this to us.   It is clear that, to you, we are not people; we are “constituents,” “statistics,” or “resources.”  You assume our gullibility and ignorance.  That is a mistake on your part.

I stand before you today to inform you about my perception of your work and our path as a nation.  Both are failing, and they are failing at your hands.   When I see your choices and listen to your words, I do not recognize statesmen and stateswomen for the most part; I see arrogant, ideological zealots who are more interested in firming your place in history than serving the people who elected you.  You allow the wealthiest in our country, of which many of you can be counted, to decide what is best for the majority of us, who are poor and working-poor.  You permit corporate interests to surmount the needs of our children, the disabled, and veterans.   You propagate other countries’ dependence upon us on the backs of citizens of the United States who ourselves are rapidly becoming residents of a second-world country.   The most challenging part of all of this is that you have heard my words so often that you have had to close your ears and hearts to them just to protect your sense of self.  If you actually internalized these sentiments and thoughts, you would despair.

Yet, I must backtrack for a moment.  This is not wholly your responsibility.  It is ours.  We elected you, and reelected you, then elected you-substitutes when your term-limits arrived.  The truth is that you, too, have become interchangeable faces with your predecessors.  You could disappear today, someone would take your place, and we would barely blink; yet, you believe the hyperbole about your importance so elegantly crafted during your elections.

Your money does not make you more valuable than my friend, Carrie, who teaches art at a charter school.  Your prominence does not make you more important than my friend, Amy, who works at a university.   Your education does not make you more vital than my sister, Lorraine, who is a stay-at-home mom.  You are important to your family and friends.  We have created whatever external sense of importance you have.  Remember that we as the electorate have done this; therefore, we have the power to dismantle that public value as well.

As we watch groups like AmericansElect, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Independents, and other groups grow, know that business-as-usual is coming to a close in our government.  The standard operation of the Federal Reserve is on its way out.  Anyone who uses demagoguery as a platform is at grave risk for disengagement from their political power base, especially as the broader population learns that although those who speak the loudest get the most attention, the majority actually have the power.

Our founding fathers foretold our current situation time and again.  We simply refused to believe them.  As an example, recall what Thomas Jefferson observed when he wrote to John Tyler in 1816:

“And I sincerely believe with you,  that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a grand scale.”

George Washington understood the humanity of the citizens he served.  He offered clear guidance that would well serve our elected officials when he said in a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1785,

“Democratical States must always feel before they can see; it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last.” 

I take this to mean that with prudent and open hearts, individuals of conscience will find a resolution to all of America’s woes, and that the people, not just the wealthy, will win the day.

Ladies and gentlemen of Congress, your arrogance and insensitivity is not prudence.  You refusal to compromise is not an expression of a feeling heart.  Our fear to replace you with someone completely different from those who have served in your office in the past is cowardice on our part.  We are all to blame.

Today, my fellow citizens, which is, after all, who you are, I claim my culpability and declare to you that I now reclaim my power as a citizen of these United States of America.  You no longer have the power to sway my vote without my conscientious consideration.  You no longer have the right to make deals in secret without my consent.  You will acknowledge the decimation of those peoples who stood in our way to statehood, for it is only in recognizing the injury we caused that we can even begin to ask for forgiveness.  You may no longer abscond with funds from my elderly parents and students to pay foreign governments’ bills.  You may no longer pepper-spray my sons and daughters who sit on a cement sidewalk at a university without cause.  You may no longer send my children to wars around the world without the purpose of defending the lives of our citizens, not our oil or political status.  You may no longer borrow against the futures of my grandchildren.  You may no longer give money to megacorporations and banks that rightly belong to our fellow countrymen and -women without my considered approval.  No longer shall you deny rights to even one member of our population; rights that you have no jurisdiction to govern in the first place.  No longer may you allow anyone to be turned away from health care because they cannot afford it.  You will ensure that an affordable education for all our young people is available.  No longer may you collect your salary while damaging our brother- and sister-Americans; and even then, you may only collect that salary until the end of your term.  Today, and not a day later, you will acknowledge the innate freedoms and equality that we Americans were promised at the time of the founding of our country. Remember, you answer to me and to all of us who put you in office.  I suspect my voice is simply a reflection of millions of voices across the country.

From this day forward, we decide how our country runs.  You will do our bidding, and not the bidding of corporations or small, monied enclaves of power who insist on stoking the conflagration that has become our American lives.  You are put on notice that effective today, you are accountable down to the penny for our money, because, after all, it is our money.  The walls of Congress will no longer be an expression of your xenophobia.  Not only will those walls be transparent, but metaphorically razed so that we have complete access to everything you know about us and our country.

Your personal lives are yours alone.  If you are faithful or unfaithful to your spouse, that is between you and your mate.  Whether you are gay or straight, Christian or Buddhist, fat or thin, from the South or the West, these issues are of no concern.  Again, your private lives are yours alone.  The same is true for us.  Anything to do with our personal lives neither requires nor will tolerate governance.  You will stay out of our bedrooms, our churches, and our doctor’s offices.  As such, we will also not consider those issues when it comes time for your election.  There is room for all of us in our country, not only to be tolerated, but to be celebrated.

I hope you have enjoyed your tenure under the old administration; however, this is a new day.  Everyone from our local dog catcher to our President of the United States is now on notice:  The People rule America.  Anyone who works with a different understanding than that will be removed from office immediately.  If you didn’t like Occupy Wall Street, you will certainly loathe Occupy America!   Only those who understand compromise and collegiality shall inhabit these hallowed halls from now on.

We will return to “E pluribus unum,” or “Out of many, one,” as our national motto.  “In God we Trust,” is exclusive of those who do not believe in a monotheistic god, and is inconsistent with the separation of church and state.  Remember, not one person shall be excluded from our system.  With this mutual understanding in place, let us now begin a new day in camaraderie, equal citizenship, and a vision toward tomorrow as a unified country.  Nothing less will be tolerated.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Debt Super Committee or Tardy Janitorial Service?


Today, Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, announced that in accordance with the bill signed by President Barack Obama recently, he would appoint three of the Democrat senators to the super committee to oversee the reduction of $1.5 trillion of the American debt.  As Senators Patty Murray (D-Washington), Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), and Senator John Kerry (D-Massachussets) were announced, with Sen. Murray being defined as co-chair of this committee, as reported on CNN.com’s website, Sen. Reid declared, “As the events of the past week have made clear, the world is watching the work of this committee. I am confident that Senators Murray, Baucus and Kerry will bring the thoughtfulness, bipartisanship and commitment to a balanced approach that will produce the best outcome for the American people. (CNN.com, 2011)”

This level of optimism reflects either Sen. Reid’s complete lack of attention to the last several months of debate, or that the universe has shifted in ways utterly unimaginable to the human mind.  If we have learned anything from these last few weeks, we have been sorely reminded that our legislature has little to no empathy for the American people.  We have learned that even the best-intentioned members of Congress have negligible power against those whose singular focus is self-agrandisement.  The activities in the coming months to reduce the debt likely will look no different than the race to August 2 that manifested this bill in the first place. They have simply been invited to clean up the mess that has been growing for the last 10 years.

The Senate and House of Representatives have been given their marching orders to develop a plan to reduce the national debt; however, we already know that the Democrats and Republicans have very different views on how to do this.  We know, too, that their convoluted thought processes will steer them right back into the morass of argumentative, belligerent, and unreasonable behaviors they have so frequently exhibited.  We have seen the bullies and the co-dependents shamelessly operating in full view of the American people; yet we are asked to believe that a bipartisan committee from both houses will be able to hammer out this deal?  Even if they do, will it be accepted on the floors of the House and Senate?  Not without a rhetorical blood bath.

Each party now believes they won part of the previous battle.  Their sense of entitlement is enormous, and they will wield their gimme-ness like maces and axes against those who oppose them, just as they’ve done all along.  Compromise is a sophisticated, sensitive tool that those of breeding, generosity of spirit, and intelligence understand.  The barbarians that currently populate a powerful share of our legislature have shown little of this sophistication. The sole commodity that seems to be in abundance on The Hill is arrogance, and it smells like a giant hill of trash. Not unlike the old adage about the crazy folk being in charge of the asylum, the wastrels are in charge of the disaster area.

As we approach the November 16 deadline for this agreement to be completed by the super committee, we will see the true measure of Congress. It may be that the poor and disabled will benefit from this discussion, health care will be improved, military costs will be kept in check, the wealthy will carry their fair share of the tax burden, and the lion will lay down with the lamb. Yes, it’s all possible, but not probable.  If the past is any indicator, U.S. Janitorial Service, otherwise known as Congress, will likely make a bigger mess than the one they attempt to clean up, and the ones who will have to carry this trash heap on their shoulders into the future are the American people… again.

***

Reference

Walsh, Dierdre (2011) [Reid taps Sen. Murry to co-chair debt committee.] CNN.com.  Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/08/09/debt.committee.appointments/index.html?hpt=hp_t2 on August 9, 2011.

Oh, Yeah! I Have a Voice


What a novel concept. I just wrote to my congresswoman, Doris Matsui, to ask her to lead a movement to remove Senator John Boehner from his current role as House Speaker, and to select someone new who is more centrist and will represent more Americans than just the Tea Partiers. I just remembered that I could do that. I don’t know if it will do any good, or even if it happened, if it would make any difference, but at least now my voice was heard.

Oh, I’m an American. Yeah, that’s right.

I wonder how many of us realize how much power we really have in this country by just sending an e-mail.  No matter what our opinion, if we e-mail our representatives in both houses of congress and our president, they will get the message, whatever it might be. It’s so easy to do, too.  According to  the United States Census Bureau, we have 311 million people in the country, and  three-quarters of this population are of voting age or 235 million of us.   Imagine if only half of these people, 117 million, wrote to Congress with only a simple e-mail?  How would they possibly not respond to the majority’s requests?

FYI, to find your representiave, type in your search field, “House of Representatives/Senate” and your Zip code.  Ta da!  There is the information.  To e-mail the president, simply type in WhiteHouse.gov.

I suppose I’m not really advocating any particular position in this brief missive other than I believe we should all make our voices heard, no matter what our positions.  If we feel strongly about something, don’t spend so much time pissing and moaning about it to your friends.  Sit down for 20 minutes (perhaps that extra Facebook or Google+ time), write a thoughtful, productive letter to your representative, senator, and president, and let them know what you think.  Your voice counts.  A lot of voices count a lot!

(Originally posted as a note on Facebook, July 27, 2011)

Definitions in America


If I had a deficit in my bank account of $500.00 on the first of the month, and my rent and bills came due totaling $2,000 with no other current options for income, and this is the way it was every month, wouldn’t I be poor?  Of course I would be.  If I kept borrowing money from family member after family member and never paid them back, what would you say about me then?  I think we all know.  If I kept telling everyone, “Don’t worry, I’ll pay you back when everything gets better,” but things never got better, people simply wouldn’t believe me any more.  Let’s add to this the fact that I have a spouse and small children.  They have little food, no phone, no health insurance, no car, let alone car insurance, but I continue to pay $800 every month for an alarm system to protect the little we have left. What would you say about my priorities?  I’m sure I would appear to be living in a dream world of idealism and hope with few options for reasonable resolutions to my issues.  The only problem is that I don’t see it that way.   What can I do then?

Tell the truth.  That’s the only option for improvement.  I have to sit down with those I love and tell them the truth of the situation.  I have to say, “I am in poverty right now and I don’t know what to do.   I can’t take care of my family.  I think I am completely out of options.”  Only then can I figure out what to do.  There are always other possibilities for resolution, but they will never appear until we tell the truth. 

This is what is happening in America today.  We have a deficit that is inordinately larger than our income can handle.  Our citizens are in pain and dying because of our inability to care for them.  Our country is printing empty money to offset out debts.  Legislators are using our national poverty as a hostage to satisfy their personal agendas.  The worst part is every single one of them is pointing at someone else as a cause for the problem instead of asking him- or herself, “What can I constructively do to fix this, and with whom?” 

Have you ever seen ferral dogs fighting over a small morsel of food?  That’s what I see when I watch the legislature act these days.  It’s embarrassing to me as a voting American citizen to watch a gaggle of ineffective people strut and caw like a bunch of vultures making tens of thousands of dollars a year talk about what we, without food, electricity, and health care, need.  I write to my congresspeople.  I write to the president.  I write my blogs.  It just gets worse.  Instead, they hold poor and middle class people hostage for the benefit of the wealthy, claiming income and estate taxes should be handled equitably?   Really, ladies and gentlemen?  Since when did equity have anything to do with our governmental process or life in the United States of America?  We have never seen one day in the over two centuries of our history in which either full equality or equity existed in our history. 

So, what’s next?  Our president, with ranking members of both parties in both houses of Congress, senior cabinet members, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court must stand before our country and say the following in one voice:

“My fellow citizens of the United States, this message comes too late and after too much damage has been done to our once great country.  We have finally recognized that our greed and selfish choices have injured our citizens.  We have spent so much time focusing on our personal needs and desires in government that we have forgotten our primary focus and ultimately, our employers – you.  Americans on Main Street are the most important considerations we must have.  As with the microcosm of our families, if we take care of those we love with responsibility and accountability, act as good neighbors with those around us, and speak directly to any injustice with one voice, we will find our way out of any challenge.  If we move with transparency and wise authority, we as a national community will find our way through the muck and mire that has slogged us down in our path toward greatness. 

“Today, the bald eagle has feathers missing.  Today, Lady Liberty is slouching in shame.  Today, we are not great.  The one strength we have as a nation is that we understand what hard work means.  We understand that we can make a delicious soup out of potatoes.  We are not afraid to face our demons.  Beginning today, that’s what we have done.  We, the leaders of these United States of America have signed a binding, bipartisan pact together to move toward the national ideal of trust, communication, ethics, integrity, and strength.  We can only do this with your help…”

From there, the new process begins.  From there, the dialogue will include everyone who needs to participate.  From there, true hope begins.  From there, we rebuild our country.  From there, our great eagle soars once again.

Sexuality vs. Love


All hearts can love.

As we continue having debates regarding rights, freedoms, and full citizenship for people in same-gender relationships, we may want to conserve our energy and make our discussions more efficient and accurately reflective of every type of relationship.

As I watched Current TV, the channel developed by former vice-president Al Gore, and Illinois senator, Al Franken (D), I heard a woman say that these debates, especially those going toward the U.S. Supreme Court, are made more challenging because the word sex is involved.   The word to which she was referring was, “Homosexuality.”

If it’s really an issue, why not use a different word?  The Latin word, “homo,” means, “same.”  “Hetero,” mean “different.” The Latin root, “amor,” means, “love.” 

Homoamorous means two people of the same gender love one another. 

Heteroamorous means two people of different genders love one another.

So, why not change the word.  It’s not as though we’re using ancient or sacred words to describe our relationships.  “Homosexuality” was coined on May 6, 1869 by Karoly Maria Benkert, a 19th Century Hungarian physician, who first broke with traditional thinking when he suggested that people are born homosexual and that it is unchangeable.  With that belief as his guide, he fought the Prussian legal code against homosexuality that he described as having “repressive laws and harsh punishments (Conrad and Angel, 2004).” 

One would suspect that Dr. Benkert would appreciate this change in lexicon so that we change our focus in this debate from sex to love.  John and Frank are not two people in sex.  They are two people in love.  Deborah and Sheila are not two women who spend their lives sexing each other, they are two women loving each other.  This is especially true because homosexuality has been demedicalized in so many ways.

If we’re going to have to have this debate in the first place, let’s speak accurately about the people involved.  We are homoamorous people.  We are two people of one gender who are in love.  Those in opposite gender relationships are heteroamorous. 

How complicated can that be?  If I were to approach someone and ask them if they’d like a slice of bread, their first question is likely, “What kind is it?”  As a people, we love clarity.  Homosexuality and heterosexuality are simply not clear enough terms for the breadth of our relationship.  Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are clear winners when it comes to describing the relationships with which I am most familiar.

Sexuality is an important, if not a terribly time consuming part of most marriage relationships.  It helps motivate our interest in a particular person whose gender is consistent with what we prefer; however, that, too, is not always the case. 

Is it unthinkable that two people can have a relationship that is purely emotional in form, without sex, who continue to love one another nonetheless?  Ask many people who are of a certain age. 

Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are not only options for the terms homosexuality and heterosexuality, they might even be the preferred forms given their more emotionally inclusive qualities. 

My mother used to say, when trying to get the direct truth out of me, “Jim, call a spade a spade.”  Although I never played bridge, from which this term comes, I knew what she meant.  Name something as it is.  I now get that message all the more clearly.

Thanks, Mom.

__________________________

References:

2010, Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/homosexuality/

Conrad, P., & Angell, A. (2004). HOMOSEXUALITY AND REMEDICALIZATION. Society, 41(5), 32-39. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

The President’s Voice on Prop. 8


There are many people who have lived in the United States of America who have not had a voice.  Those voiceless people were expected by those in power to sit silently as others made decisions for them.

The Native Americans were expected to stand aside as Europeans settled their sacred land.

African natives and their descendants were expected to work as slaves as European descendants built their livelihoods on these slaves’ sweat and blood.

The Chinese railroad workers were expected to accept what they received as they built the Transcontinental Railroad.

Mexicans were expected to work as farm laborers without adequate pay or human services while farmers earned their living.

The one thing each of these oppressed groups had in common was that they all spoke up.  They fought back.  Those wise enough and strong enough stepped up to demand that their message be heard.   The voices of  John Smith and Pocahontas in Jamestown, Virginia; the Chinese striking railroad workers on Donner Pass, in 1867; Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War; and Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta during the founding of the National Farmworkers Association, all resounded throughout the country as their messages of equality, health, safety, and full citizenship were heralded.

We are facing a federal court case in San Francisco that will assess whether the vote on California’s Proposition 8 was legal.  Prop 8 passed in November 2008 and because it passed, the now enforceable California Marriage Protection Act added language to Section 7.5 of Article 1, of the California Constitution that stated, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California.”

As we look toward the future of equal marriage rights and citizenship rights for the gay community, we are fortunate to have many voices calling for full citizenship in the United States.  The tragic part is that the one voice that is more necessary than any others is falling eerily silent during this time of change.

Instead of standing tall for the freedom and voice of the gay community, President Barack Obama is peering from the sidelines.  Rather than stating emphatically that the rights of one citizen of our country shall be granted, without hesitation or fear, to all citizens of our country, regardless of race, creed, economic status, disability, or sexual orientation, he simply waits quietly.  Somehow, amazingly, President Obama appears to believe that we should allow this debate to continue as a people while hearing only a vacuum in the Oval Office. 

From Presidents Bush, Reagan, Nixon, Ford, and others of their ilk, this philosophy of inequality is strangely understandable.  Because they were reared in another social era, holding onto conservative beliefs, their frames of reference should be expected to be as they were.

With Presidents Carter and Clinton, the time had not yet arrived for this message of equality.

As for President Bush, Jr., our expectations of him had to be held very, very low because he was just not capable of anything more.

“And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.”  Luke 12:48 (Holy Bible)

Not only has President Obama been given the mantle of President, he has also been given a place in American history that not one other human being can ever have.  He is the first African-American to hold this position.  With that place in history, Americans have incredibly high expectations of him.  We must remember, however, that he is not obligated to support all equal rights issues just because he holds this place in American history.  He is simply a human being making human decisions. 

Perhaps because of the powerful Black leaders of the past, including Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and General Colin Powell, we’ve hoped that President Obama would join their ranks in fearless defense of all citizens of our country.  That simply may not be the case.  He may just wait for others to do the work before he steps up to say, “Well done.”

The hardest part for many people in this country is to imagine that President Obama will blandly meld into the lineage of so many other American presidents by turning what could have been a dynamic era in U.S. history into a watered down revisitation of other administrations.   Perhaps he will lean more toward his European heritage and become the politician that so many U.S. presidents have become instead of the noble statesman he has the capacity to become.

The truth is, Americans do expect more from President Obama.  At a certain level, he is the first of his culture to leap the White House in a single bound.  He is, I suppose, perceived as our Captain America.  He shouldn’t be.  He’s just a person like the rest of us.

After all his promises of change, the only real change we may see through him is his ethnic background.   He may prove to disbelievers that there really is no difference between the races or cultures in America.  Any person in the White House can be just as afraid of disapproval as any other person, and in that fear, remain silent when there are people who need vocal and active leadership.

Equality as a Cigarette


Dear President Obama,

No on 8No on Question 1As we evaluate what happened in Maine as marriage equality, via Question 1, went down with a similar margin as is did in California with Proposition 8, a vivid memory from over thirty years ago comes to mind, in the way a locust comes to a field of corn.

When I was a young father, I used to smoke around my children and in the house.  I smoked in the car and at work.  I smoked everywhere. 

As my children grew, I would lecture them on the dangers of smoking, even as I went to the hospital for asthma and two strokes in my forties from smoking.  I did begin smoking in a different room than the one in which my children were playing.  I did all these “better” things, but I never quit.  I never took action to model a “best” behavior for them.

I believe that this is what you have done to the gay and lesbian community.  You’ve talked a lot about your support of the LGBTQ community.  You’ve signed ENDA and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act  into law. You’ve done all this, but you have not repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and you have not repealed the Defense of Marriage Act.   I remember mentioning that we would see how you’d done by this time in my commentary of May 2009, “DOMA, DADT, and the President of the United States.”

You have given tacet approval to everyone in the United States to stand by their arrogant bigotry by not taking action.  Maine’s response to Question 1 raises our questions about your commitment to the tasks at hand, especially considering that on your White House contact website, there isn’t even a category for civil rights.  Our issues are relegated to the cruel word, “Other.”   It makes me believe that some of us American citizens are seen as “those people.”

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It's tough to let go.

For the record, every single one of my children ended up smoking.   Although they are now in their 30’s and 40’s for the most part, and making their own choices, they initially learned from me that smoking was o.k.  I am saddened every day by that fact as they end up in the hospital with asthma and bronchitis.  I am saddened that they may develop emphysema or  lung cancer and die the way their great-grandparents did, and as I, it appears, shall do as well.  I am saddened that their children, of which there are nine between them, will learn the same lessons from my children as mine did from me.  The impact of my smoking has become generational. 

Are you going to allow the impact of your inaction toward the necessary civil rights issues before you to become generational,  as well? 

With my husband, David, we signed our Domestic Partnership documents in August 2005.  In August 2006, we were married in a religious ceremony, and in doing so, we became husbands to one another.  You, Mr. President, however, have no record of that marriage.  Neither does anyone else, except in the hearts of those in attendance.  Is that the life you would want with Mrs. Obama? 

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A gay, older couple

Next time you have a cigarette, (and because I, too, continue to struggle with my nicotine addiction, I know there will be another cigarette, Mr. President), each time you take a drag, think about the gay community.  Each cigarette represents another gay person who is being discriminated against.  Each puff represents one more day that American citizens are being kept from equality.  Every butt you throw away is the dream of a gay couple whose hope for their 50th wedding anniversary that has been dashed. 

So, I raise my filled ashtray to you, President Obama, in hopes that you will both stop smoking and make the changes to our laws that will provide equality to all people in America.

Sincerely,

James S. Ch. Glica-Hernandez

Sacramento, CA

Sent Wednesday, November 4, 2009  9:15 PM PST