An Open Letter to Barack Obama

By Lorri L. Jean

Originally published on Advocate.com May 25 2009 11:00 PM ET

Dear President Obama:

Welcome to California, Mr. President. I welcome you with a heavy heart because of the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold Prop. 8, relegating same-sex couples to second class status and denying us that most noble promise of America, "liberty and justice for all."

You are arriving in Los Angeles on the heels of emotional demonstrations throughout California and our nation and your silence at such a time speaks volumes. LGBT people and our allies have the "audacity to hope" for a country that treats us fairly and equally and for a President with the will to stand up for those ideals. From you we expect nothing less.

We know the country faces many serious challenges and we have strived to be patient. We've waited for the slightest sign you would live up to your promise to be a "fierce advocate" for our equal rights while watching gay and lesbian members of the armed forces, who have never been more needed, get discharged from the military. And so far you have done nothing. No stop loss order. No call to cease such foolish and discriminatory actions that make our nation less safe.

You pledged to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Mr. President. You promised to support a "complete repeal" of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and pledged to advocate for legislation that would give same-sex couples the 1,100+ federal rights and benefits we are denied, including the same rights to social security benefits. You said, "federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples."

What of those promises, Mr. President?

Your commitment to repeal DOMA has been removed from the White House website. Your promise to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" was removed and then replaced with a watered-down version. And in the aftermath of yesterday's California Supreme Court ruling, you have remained silent while your press secretary summarily dismisses questions about the issue.

We not only need to hear from our President, we need his action. And we need it now.

We need your words, Mr. President. But we also need your deeds. We expect you to fulfill the promises you made to us. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, "Justice too long delayed is justice denied." Do not delay, Mr. President. The time for action is now.

Sincerely,

Lorri L. Jean Chief Executive Officer L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center