By Phil Hicks
The elected president of the United States of America made history this month by becoming the first sitting president to indicate that he supports same-sex marriage. Of course, this is a controversial proclamation, just as it was for the greatest Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to advocate the abolishment of slavery.
There’s another word for taking a stand in order to right a long supported wrong. It’s called leadership. It takes courage to be bold. The easy route would have been to wait until after the November election. In stating this now though, Obama, who in three years has done more for the LGBT cause than any elected official in the history of our nation, has taken the next step. It truly is the next step toward making “equality” more than just an ideal. Greatness is rarely accomplished by taking measured baby steps, even when they are in the correct direction.
Although nobody wants to admit it, our founding fathers were not always correct in their viewpoints. Their genius, though, was in leaving a system in place that allows for corrections. Thankfully, although most of the founders were slave owners, that wrong was rectified. Although women were not among the equal citizens with the right to vote, that too was eventually resolved. Those are but a couple of errors that have been taken care of over our still short existence. Looking back, an overwhelming majority of Americans would say that those changes were good and perhaps even overdue. As hard as it is to believe today, neither move was entirely popular with many in the country. How fortunate were we that there were people determined to be on the correct side of history?
I am so glad that our current president has made a bold move. There will come a time, I hope not decades away, when people will hear that gays and lesbians were not given the equal rights that the founding fathers promised our citizenry, and they’ll be appalled. We aren’t there yet. We aren’t even to the point where that wrong has been corrected. North Carolina demonstrated that their desire to be on the wrong side of history will not be limited to the Civil War. How appropriate to sneak a bill into a primary election, rather than wait until a general election in November to bring such an important issue to the electorate. After such a miscarriage occurs in a swing state, it would have seemed to be a dangerous time for President Obama to reiterate his opposition. Of course, someone with courage and strong will might. So he did.
His presumptive opponent holds tight to the viewpoint that he not only opposes same-sex marriage, but civil unions as well. (He holds on tighter in fact, than to any other of his wishy-washy “convictions.”) The line has been drawn in the sand. The difference is not evolving anymore.
Certain moments in history have brought shame on our country in retrospect. Hindsight, as they say is 20-20. But it’s rare that we can’t look back and say, “that was the right thing to do.” That’s true, as long as we have time to absorb the significance. There will always be those that wish for the “good old days.” You know who I’m talking about. Those that want to revert to what the founding fathers had in mind. Those were the days of yore, when every land-owning white male had the right to vote.
Yes, changes have been made, and the hearts and minds of thinking individuals of all races continue to evolve. When we look back at those who were against the abolition of slavery, we think of those people as ignorant, and correctly so. The same is true of those opposed to giving women the right to vote, less than a century ago. It almost seems preposterous that there are many alive today who were alive when women couldn’t even vote. That is because we know, not think, but know, that this was shameful. But, hey, that’s the way the founders wanted it, right?
It’s time to bring another group into the sunlight. There is no excuse for someone to have to stay in a closet for fear of losing their rights, or worst of all their dignity. More and more members of the LGBT community are coming out of the closet daily, but there remain some who want to hold them back. Those are the same people that soon we’ll be looking back on as ignorant. Don’t let those that would deny my kids the right to marry hide in their dark offices. Come to think of it, maybe we should push them toward the darkness, like we have every group that ends up on the wrong side of history. Or like the vampires of history, we bring them into the light to expose themselves for who they really are, cowards.
Thank God, (and yes, I believe in him or her), we have a president who is now clear he isn’t one of them.
Phil Hicks is board president of the Metro D.C. chapter of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays.