View From the Hill: Obama's Silence
BY Kerry Eleveld
May 29 2009 12:00 AM ET
Just last week longtime LGBT activist David Mixner called for a March on Washington this fall and an unaffiliated group of activists assembled in Dallas to put forth a united set of goals for the movement. While I'm not sure what will come of either effort, these independent and simultaneous calls to action demonstrate that many people feel the fierce urgency of now being carelessly squandered by Washington's political elite.
When the administration's LGBT announcements come, I will be watching what the Amy Balliett s of the nation think, not what those in Washington say. Why? Because a cultural and generational shift is taking place that Washington politicians and even our LGBT organizations seem to be either missing, dismissing, or ignoring.
Here's my thoroughly unscientific, crude analysis: Gay baby boomers typically stayed in the closet because they didn't want their lives to be ruined; LGBT Gen-Xers expected that we (I'm an Xer) could be mostly visible without fearing life, limb, and job loss (depending on where one lived) but figured there might be some trade-offs in rights even if we knew it was unfair; a majority of millennials, LGBT and straight, just don't get why we all pay the same taxes, work the same jobs, make the same contributions, but queer people don't enjoy the same legal rights and protections in the military, civil marriage, employment, or anywhere else for that matter.
So while Washington tinkers around the edges of LGBT rights -- maybe trying to get gay couples counted in the Census, strengthening federal hate-crimes protections, or providing same-sex partner health benefits to federal workers -- our nation's young may simply wonder why their best friends can't get married or why their sisters and brothers died cloaked in the closet of our country's uniform.
I'm quite confident that is not the "change" they envisioned at the ballot box last fall, and I do wonder, what will be the price of President Obama's silence among the ranks of our nation's future?