Pam Spaulding

My letter to President-Elect Obama

Filed By Pam Spaulding | December 11, 2008 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, gay open letter, open letter, open letter to obama, open letter to president-elect obama

Before the election, The Advocate asked me to write a letter to the Dem and GOP nominees for president. The magazine planned to feature missives from various well-known voices in the LGBT community; it was an interesting idea, since we didn't know the outcome of the election at the time. It appears in the latest issue of the magazine and it's online now.

You know, the thought of writing a letter to President-elect John McCain was so horrific that I simply couldn't get my fingers onto the keyboard to tap out anything. So I begged off until the deadline was almost upon me and was told I could submit the one for Obama since the polling was favoring the former Illinois senator. It took me a while to figure out what I was going to say to President-elect Obama at the time, but I'll leave it to you all to tell me if I hit the right note or not.

My letter is below the fold.

Dear President Obama,

You have made history with your election; our country, left in tatters after abuse by the last administration, is awaiting positive change. Millions of Americans gave to your campaign and dedicated countless hours of their time and energy to support you and other Democrats around the country. Many of these generous people are part of the LGBT community.

This year, the Democratic Party presented a forward-thinking platform on our issues, and you as the standard-bearer made unprecedented statements on what civil equality for LGBT Americans means. That said, the gulf between your support for civil unions and marriage, as you well know, is still a challenge for our community. As a constitutional scholar, you know that separate but equal is a folly when it comes to civil rights. But we also know that support for equality continues to rise.

There are many things you can do to help move this country in the right direction; as you have said, your personal religious beliefs are not what should guide your decisions on civil equality for all citizens of this land. Building bridges is your strong suit--I am sure that these efforts could help close that gap:

  • Appoint qualified out LGBTs to prominent positions in your administration. We care about the economy, health care, and our military presence abroad; we are not a single-issue constituency.

  • Use the bully pulpit of the presidency to grow support out in the country--and on the Hill--for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," the passage of the hate-crimes bill, and other equality legislation that is on the table.

The LGBT community is just one of dozens, if not hundreds, of constituencies that have been waiting out in the cold for regime change, and they are all hungry to have their progressive issues at the top of the list. We know that the issues we hold dear are fundamental rights, and we also know that you have been left with an almost impossible list of issues that need urgent attention, given the debacle of eight years under Bush. We are eager to see what you believe should be the top issues on your agenda.

We are ready to move forward and plan to stay visible--and assertive--in working with the Obama administration and the next Congress to secure rights for all.

You and your family will restore dignity to the White House and the United States of America. Good luck, Mr. President.

Pam Spaulding
Durham, N.C.-based blogger 

Here are some of the other contributors to the project, I was in really impressive company:

Tammy Baldwin, Democratic member of Congress from Wisconsin

Daniel Tammet, author of Born on a Blue Day

Evan Wolfson, Executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry

Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign

Melissa Etheridge, singer-songwriter

Michelangelo Signorile, radio host and author of Queer in America

Tammy Bruce, radio talk-show host and author of The New American Revolution

Kenji Yoshino, professor at New York University School of Law and the author of Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights

Vestal McIntyre, author of ?You Are Not the One and the forthcoming Lake Overturn

Jarrett Lucas, codirector of the 2008 Soulface Q Equality Ride

Michael Lowenthal, author of Charity Girl and Avoidance

Suzanne Westenhoefer, comedian and star of the documentary A Bottom on Top

Jim Buzinski, CEO and cofounder of

Perez Hilton, blogger, radio host, and television personality

Carole Midgen, former California state senator

Pam Spaulding, Durham, N.C.-based blogger

Paris Barclay, Executive Producer/Director HBO's In Treatment

Lorri L. Jean, CEO, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center

Jeffrey Prang, Mayor of West Hollywood

Jorge Valencia, Executive director and CEO of Point Foundation

Mark Leno, California assemblyman

The Reverend Doctor Troy D. Perry, founder and moderator emeritus, Metropolitan Community Churches\

Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality

Donna Rose, transgender activist

Peter Tatchell, LGBT human rights campaigner and spokesman for OutRage!

Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality

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Pam, thanks for your well-written, pragmatic letter. I think it's a great example of the kind of level-headed, inclusive language that needs to be used.

I've occasionally become frustrated from reading comments from readers on this site that seek to further divide a nation that is already divided on this issue.

We don't need to convince ourselves that we deserve equality, we need to convince straight people. Although it is sad and ridiculous, it is the truth. And so why not couch it in inclusive terms that help them to better understand what we are trying to accomplish? Not forgetting who we are, not forgetting the struggles LGBT people have faced, but being informed by those things. Being driven, inspired, and convicted by these truths to educate and inform our straight neighbors about who we are. Using those experiences to fire our passion for respect and dignity. The word fight does not have to be expressed with the negative connotation is often represents. We can fight, and we need to fight. But fight to further divide we should not.

Are there not lessons to be learned from this last Presidential elections Obama did not win using divisive language. He won on hope, inclusion, people. Harvey Milk did not win an election until he realized that you had to give people hope. We have to rise above and be the "bigger" people on this. It sucks. I often want to scream at people - but the bottom line is that it just won't work. WE have to bring ALL walks of Americans together.

I'm fairly certain that many people will not agree with this, and that's fine - obviously. But this is what I will continue to do. I will point out the obvious inconsistencies and hatred in the arguments against us. I will contribute everyday to the world in order to make it a better place. I will use inclusive language fighting for equality for all people.

In the words of Robert Kennedy, "Divided we are nothing."

Your use of the semi-colon in the first and third paragraphs puzzles me. Nevertheless, a warm compelling letter.

First of all, great letter, Pam!

The semi-colon is appropriate as the sentences it separates could stand alone with a period between them.

"You have made history with your election. Our country, left in tatters after abuse by the last administration, is awaiting positive change."

The passage makes sense if you use the period, so this indicates that a semi-colon, rather than a comma, should be used.

I'm so proud of you, Pam. Way to go! But I have to admit, I'd love to have seen your letter to McCain. I shudder to think of the possibility that he could have won, but it would have been interesting to see what you would have written...

I wish we had had a chance to read those letters to mccain, if others wrote them up. That would have been funny.