Last night, this country and one man rendered me: speechless, emotional, proud, invigorated, hopeful, determined, heard, triumphant, tearful and peaceful.
Barack Obama. The 44th president of the United States of America.
The LEADER of our country, the same country who would have denied him the right to vote, based on his skin color, had he been born before 1870 and the passing of the 15th amendment.
The significance of this achievement can not be denied.
Not that he deserved the presidency based on skin color. He didn't. Just like Sarah Palin didn't deserve my vote simply because we share the same anatomy.
My point is we'd be remiss not to stop and reflect on how far we, as a nation, have come in seeing PAST the color of a person's skin - so that we may hear his or her voice instead.
I realize that while much of the nation celebrates this morning, there is a large percentage of people who did not vote for Obama who are disappointed, scared, angry and worried about the safety and direction of our country. Both mine and April's families are among that group and I respect their concerns and sincerely hope Obama serves them in ways they don't anticipate, and surprises them by governing with their concerns in mind.
For the first time, in a victory speech, a President included ME, as a gay person, in his remarks.
"It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."
He didn't trip over the word GAY. It didn't sound dirty. Or Shameful. It sounded...like it belonged.
Here's his victory speech, one of the most humbling, inspiring, eloquent speeches I've ever heard. (You'll have to endure the commercial first, sorry).
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Obama's appeal and promise of CHANGE was enough to turn Republican strongholds the color blue. Last night was the first time in forty years the state of Virginia voted democratically. Florida and North Carolina also switched things up, voting for Obama.
Those voters agreed that his platform, not his skin color, was the issue. Their vote proved there is no place for discrimination in the White House.
However, thousands of people who are this morning patting themselves on the back because they helped elect the first African American president, also voted to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into the Constitution.
The irony is painful.
How can we travel so far forward AND backward in the same night?
Voters in Arkansas said gays and lesbians can't be foster parents. I know, without a doubt, April and I would provide a loving, stable, strict and safe environment for any child - whether it was biological, adopted or fostered. To suggest children are better off left in "the system" than with us is insulting, hurtful and punishes children who long for the stability that many loving same-sex couples could provide. Shame on you Arkansas. Shame on you. (Anyone who doubts the type of home a gay or lesbian could provide need only visit my friend Lori's blog. She adopted two special needs kids and they are thriving.)
Voters in Florida and Arizona said no, same sex couples can't marry. Voters in California voted YES on Prop 8, stripping the rights of gay couples who until today, could get married anywhere in the state. My friends Heather and Chelsea have been married a little more than a week. Now, California, the state that recognized and blessed their union, is telling them the love they share is a second-class love, not worthy of the same type of respect and protection given to heterosexual couples.
Separate, not equal.
Sounds familiar, right?
A little like the road traveled by others facing discrimination based on race or gender...