Since President Obama took office, he has accomplished a great deal. In my view, the president’s leadership has led to a safer country and a stronger economy.
But Wednesday, when President Obama announced that he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry and be treated as equal citizens under the law, he reminded me why I voted for him.
For me, this announcement was significant not just because he is the first sitting U.S. president to publicly support marriage equality, but also because he is our nation’s first African American president.
As an African American gay man, I could not be more proud to have such a thoughtful and courageous president sitting in the Oval Office representing me. His position on marriage equality evolved over time, just like it has for many Americans, including members of my very own loving and accepting family. They had to take a journey that included learning from and about others, as well as learning about themselves.
Like the president’s evolution, that journey led them to a place where they support equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in every avenue of life. Not just marriage but also in the workplace, schools and health care.
In 2008, President Obama shattered stereotypes and assumptions about African American political figures when he won his historic election. Today, he also made a tremendous dent in the eroding but still broad assumption that people of color, particularly men, are not accepting of or don’t respect the GLBT community. I know this is not the rule. I have a wonderful brother, uncles, grandfather and father who love respect and treat me equally.
Too often when the views of African Americans on GLBT issues are held, these conversations often fail to include the bold fact that some black Americans identify as gay, lesbian or transgender. We can be black and proud while simultaneously gay and proud. I believe the support of the president will encourage other men of color to speak up, too, because they believe in fairness for all people.
Martin Luther King Jr., Cornel West and numerous other black men in the movement for equal rights over the years have to varying degrees maintained that the oppression and denial of individual freedoms to gay and lesbians is fundamentally wrong. President Obama’s evolution builds on a legacy of African American men who fought for justice that wasn’t for just us. Justice is for everyone.
I know that I do not stand alone in applauding President Obama for standing up for equality for all men, which includes black gay men, like me.
Read more on The Root DC