Thursday, May 7, 2009

The New President and Human Rights of Gay Citizens: Continued Discussion

And, yes, the discussion of President Obama's silence about gay people and gay issues at a time in which these issues are at the forefront of national awareness and conversations continues (here). UPDATE: and still more discussion (here) of the new president's silence in the face of the biggest civil rights challenge of our period.

And my own position (here and here) remains unchanged: effective leadership has a strong moral underpinning. And these issues are, in the final analysis, moral issues. They are moral in a much broader and more profound sense than the narrow fixation on pelvic morality in some Christian traditions recognizes.

Nothing can be more profoundly moral than the question of whether a group of human beings is fully human and deserving of the full range of human rights that others enjoy. When a group of human beings is unfairly stigmatized and pushed to the social margins, those human beings suffer, and the unmerited suffering of others has a claim on anyone who pretends to be moral.

These moral questions are at the center of an important national discussion right now, one that mirrors similar discussions about race in the past. Had we waited for nationwide consensus in those conversations about race, before we moved to address the injustice of systemic, historic racism in America, we would still be talking.

It took decisive leadership to move the nation to a consensus that some sections of the nation (notably the same southeastern states which now fight tooth and nail against humane treatment of gay citizens) bitterly opposed. In my view, Mr. Obama's response to the human rights questions now facing the nation through its gay citizens and those who stand in solidarity with us will either make or break his presidency--not just for gay citizens, but for all citizens.

It is a time for leadership. I call on the new president, who has my wholehearted support, to offer it in this crucial area now.