Monday, January 19, 2009

Emotionally Heightened

This morning as I was driving into work, I was listening to NPR.  They were doing a whole series of stories about Barack Obama and the activities and stories leading up to the inauguration tomorrow.

They started off with a story talking about how Barack Obama was taking today to visit people thank them for their service, and asked all Americans to take MLK Day as an opportunity to re-dedicate themselves to service.  This touched me, because just the other day I had decided to look into reading to children as a way to give back to the community.

Then they went on to report that Tuskegee Airmen (African-American fighter pilots from WWII) across America had been invited to have front row seats at the inauguration.  These men had been placed into a program that was designed to fail--they wanted to "prove" that African-Americans were incapable of piloting planes.  But they fought hard, and won the respect of many.

The man they interviewed had flown over 140 missions in WWII, and when he returned home to Los Angeles, he faced discrimination in his efforts to procure a home.  But he persisted, eventually becoming the cities first African-American realtors.  He's old and frail now, but listening to this man speak, I became overwhelmed with love and gratitude and joy for him.

I was driving southbound on the 101, heading into work, tears pouring down my cheeks.

He had to fight his entire life to get things that most people took for granted--but he stood his ground, loved his country and served others.  And thanks to sacrifices of thousands of men and women of all creeds and colors, we're going to be swearing in an African-American President.

I'm beaming with pride because I feel really optimistic about Obama.  Sure, he's just a man, and undoubtedly will make mistakes.  But he seems genuinely interested in listening to both sides of each issue and making the choice that he feels is best for the nation.  And most important of all, he's bringing America hope--hope that "Yes, We Can" build a better tomorrow.  And in the end, as Harvey Milk said, "you gotta give 'em hope".

Of course, I was immediately drawing parallels to the struggles the GLBT community.  When I consider how dramatically the world has changed in the last 60 years, I realize that I need to relax--we are on the right side of history, and I pray that before I'm an old man our nation will have learned to treat all it's citizens with dignity and respect.  That we will not be judged by the gender of our spouses, but by the content of our love.   That our nation will live up to the promises of it's most holy writ--the bill of rights. 

Yesterday, I passed the Hollywood Lutheran Church.  They had a huge banner outside their beautiful sanctuary that proclaimed their "No on 8" stance, and that they would continue to fight for marriage equality.   I pray that the first and most sacred amendment to our constitution, which proclaims that "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" will finally be respected.  Here is a church that welcomes, supports, and marries gay and lesbian couples--yet the force of law prevents them from having their unions treated equally under the law.

Anyway, I have been moved to tears multiple times today, and it's time I get back to work.

I'm very excited for tomorrow, and for the future in general.


  1. I see a lot of similarities between the African-American fight for equal rights and the LGBT fight as well. I was reading Martin Luther King quotes today and so many apply to it. History is on our side, we just need to be patient, and be willing to persist like they did.

  2. The sad difference is that they were able to serve "openly" as black men, and everyone could see that they were equal to their white counterparts, and hearts and minds were won.

    Sadly, with "don't ask, don't tell", gay military personnel cannot prove to their bigoted counterparts that they are just as good and can serve just fine and deserve equality.

  3. Hey Ezra. I'll be honest, I am no big fan of Mr. Obama politically. I think he is a gifted orator but untested in the trenches and I worry a lot about the unavoidable and unbreakable law of unintended consequences that normally means any government action creates as many if not more problems than it solves. And he is proposing a LOT of extremely expensive government action whose consequences are anybody's guess.

    Still, he is my president and I wish him luck and will pray for his success. Political differences aside, I am thrilled that our nation has elected an African-American and is so enthusiastic about it. Maybe now we can finally move forward toward a truly color-blind society.

    And I saw a Youtube vid by his press secretary that said unequivocably "Yes", the Obama Administration will scrap "don't ask don't tell." No qualifiers. Now that they're on the record as saying that, the only question is when. It's about time.