Wednesday, June 24, 2009

People for American Way Call on Mr. Obama to Be a Leader

People for the American Way have sent an open letter to President Obama about his unfulfilled promises to support the rights of LGBT citizens. As John Aravosis notes at Americablog, though this letter is being sent by a non-gay group, it makes the best case yet for why the president needs to address these unfulfilled promises, or risk underming the moral basis of his entire progressive platform.

Some excerpts, with brief comments of mine in highlighted text (highlighted text in the letter itself is my addition):

It's about moral vision:

I am writing to respectfully urge you to bring the energetic moral vision that you championed as a presidential candidate to the cause of equality for gay and lesbian Americans. . . .
That vision energized not only gays and lesbians, but many other fair-minded Americans who recognize discrimination as a national moral failing, who view equality under the law as a defining part of the American Way, and who believe the country is ready to discard discrimination based on bigotries that should be left in our past.

It's about leadership and the president's obligation to lead:

As importantly, Mr. President, you are uniquely capable of communicating to the American public the moral and constitutional values at stake in ending discrimination against gay Americans.

Lack of leadership in this morally-grounded human rights area affects not just LGBT citizens, but all Americans:

Beyond the clear harm to gay and lesbian Americans, the lack of your leadership on these issues damages both America's sense of fairness and the credibility of your administration.

If the president expects to lead in other areas (and he has shown leadership in other areas), he must lead in this area, as well:

We have seen you change a nation's conversation with an extraordinarily compelling speech on the issue of race in America. We have seen you change the perceptions of the world with a historic speech on history, pluralism, respect, and democracy to the world's Muslims. We have seen you bring grace and conviction to the debate with your speech at Notre Dame about preserving a woman's right to choose.

On the question of LGBT equality, it's time to make that speech.

The clock is ticking. As many of us continue to argue, failure to exert leadership in this area of human rights for LGBT Americans, and to observe the moral principles that underlie this administration's entire platform, will quickly undermine all that the new administration hopes to accomplish.