Yesterday, the White House announced the recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. The list of 16 exemplary individuals includes Harvey Milk, awarded the medal posthumously, and tennis legend and gender equity champion Billie Jean King. This marks the first time the Medal of Freedom has been awarded to openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals. This is a remarkable honor and recognition of two of our community's greatest heroes. I certainly am grateful to President Obama for acknowledging Harvey and Billie Jean among the 16 powerful, diverse, and outstanding men and women whose company they join.
Hopefully, today marks the beginning of the end of such honors being regarded as unprecedented. In the coming years when openly LGBT individuals are honored with the Medal of Freedom, we hope the announcement is unremarkable--except, of course, for the remarkable nature of the honor itself. And in that hope lies the real "Gay Agenda." It is my great wish that the place of LGBT folks in the civil and cultural life of this nation will become routine and commonplace. While an honor like the Medal of Freedom will be worth celebration and reflection, it will not be historic or rare. We are everywhere, but our presence has been too often stifled, ignored, or shamed into silence.