Obama needs to stand for gay rights

MarchaŠ Grair

The call for social reform takes a backseat to the failing economy in times when shouts of recession and rumors of depression fill the minds of many.

When social interest groups try to cash in on the promises made by President Barack Obama, they are overshadowed by the economic issues plaguing the nation.

Such is the case for gay and lesbian Americans who supported Obama on the campaign trail.

Part of the president’s campaign platform included the support for gay and lesbian rights. Obama promised to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the military. He also voiced support for granting civil unions to same-sex couples. Before his election, Obama was the most socially liberal senator in Congress, and he did not abandon many of his liberal leanings when he campaigned.ÿ

Those supporting gay rights think it’s time for Obama to give more than moral support; they want real change.

Activists gathered on Capitol Hill Friday to pressure Obama to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and carry out his promises to the gay community.

Opponents of gay rights criticize protesters for distracting the president from more pressing issues. Supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” suggest a strong stand on a controversial social issue such as gay rights would distract from Obama’s economic agenda and give him unnecessary resistance in other endeavors.

If Obama wants to create a nation of inclusion, he must do more than preach about equality. Setting an approximate timeline for the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the institution of domestic partnership rights for gays and lesbians may be an unpopular decision for Obama. However, setting an agenda for both social and economic reform should be equal priorities of any president.

If a person is willing to honor his or her country by serving in the military, that person should have the honor of being honest about his or her sexual orientation. Being in the military requires discipline and patriotism – not heterosexuality.

To suggest sexual orientation is that much of a distraction would suggest men and women cannot serve in the military together without being sidetracked by their sexual attractions.ÿ

Such thinking is simply archaic.ÿ

In times this difficult, it’s ridiculous to believe any American could lose his or her job and not receive health benefits from his or her partner. It’s unreasonable to believe a woman’s partner could die, and she could be left with nothing.

Gay and lesbians are not some liberal dissidents who want to distract from more important issues.

They want to live in this country knowing they could serve in the military and love who they want. They want to know they have the right to protect their families in a time where no one’s assets seem safe.

Pardon the interruption, Mr. President, but it just doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

MarchaŠ Grair is a junior electronic media management major. Contact her at [email protected].