An era to focus on a road less traveled

Adam Griffiths

By the time many of you read this today, Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States.

Now, I expect reactions to the first line of my first column of 2009 can be distilled to some basic common receptions of this historic event. Most of my friends who bleed blue read it, “No more Bush.” There’s the less liberal, albeit cliché rehash of Obama’s election night promise that “change has come to America.” To the millions of Americans who keep losing more and more in the worst economic recession our country’s seen in decades, it falls along the lines of, “Come on man, you gotta bring us back. You gotta make good on your promises.”

And I know it scared those who sweat red so much that they had to log on to their favorite travel Web site and book a flight to Alaska muttering, “I better get to that little nation where Sarah Palin’s got a right sense of how to do things.”

But I represent a different voice in the inaugural call of a nation to its first black president. I echo the thoughts of gays and lesbians across the country who believe, much as black Americans believed when they listened to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speak in 1963 from the very steps Obama is today.

Forty-six years later, I echo the gay serviceman’s plea to tear down the walls of the double-life he’s forced to live because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I echo the lesbian couple in Arkansas that wants to adopt children more than anything else but is thwarted by 57 percent of their fellow Arkansans. I echo the cries of transgender people across the Union who lose their jobs because the Employment Non-Discrimination Act sits in dusty exile on Congress’ to-do list.

I echo what one of my exes lists on Facebook as his political views: “Can I vote on your marriage now?”

As an LGBT American, I have to believe President Obama will pay due attention to the growing segment of his constituency that has been placed outside the scope of “All men are created equal.” I echo the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson’s plea from the opening inaugural event that our new President “remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still victims.”

Ironically, our generation received the greatest promise of our lifetime and the greatest charge of our legacy on Nov. 4, 2008. As Obama took the stage in Grant Park, thousands of married gay and lesbian Californians watched the validity of their marriages come into question under Proposition 8.

The charge I give to President Obama is to break down the walls his predecessors kept up and do everything in his ability to take discrimination out of the laws of our nation. There’s only so much legislation – or the removal of such – will do to advance the rights of LGBT people across the United States. Any action is better than no action though, and any progress made will truly be an avenue no Commander-in-Chief has ever taken before.

Adam Griffiths is a junior visual journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].