...if you have not gotten up out of your comfortable chair to campaign for homosexual and all civil rights -- campaign, not just passively support -- may you think about this crucified man, and may you mourn, and may you burn with a moral citizen's shame.
- Tony Kushner, Matthew's Passion, 1998
Two years ago, when you needed our votes and our money, you promised the gay community that you would be a "fierce advocate" on our behalf. You repeatedly said that you believed in equality, "except" that you didn't believe in gay marriage -- it's not really equality then, now is it? -- and you made sure that everyone knew this. One wouldn't have wanted to mistake you for an ally of the gay community... until you needed our cash. You refused to campaign against Proposition 8 -- even as McCain campaigned for a similar measure in Arizona -- but we let you go on that one because it might have cost you some votes, and most of us couldn't stand the prospect of another Republican Administration.
But in the aftermath of Proposition 8, gay marriage bans in Arizona and Florida and a gay adoption ban in Arkansas -- all of which were devastating to our community -- you somehow thought it appropriate to ask the bigot-in-chief of Proposition 8, Rick Warren, to give the invocation at your inauguration. You claimed it was about reconciliation and coming-together. And your apologists at the Human Rights "Campaign" -- they don't seem to be doing much campaigning these days -- said we need to pick our fights. Eventually, most of us forgot about it.
And we thought it would be okay, because you would do all those things that you promised you would do -- you know, back when you needed to make a withdrawal from the gAyTM. Do you remember your promise to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act? Do you remember your promise to actively campaign to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell and let gay, lesbian, and bisexuals finally serve openly in the military?
Apparently not. Because when we brought suit to have the Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional, not only did your administration defend it and appeal it, it did so in the most demeaning way possible. I understand the responsibility of the administration to defend existing law. But what I do not understand is why your administration felt it necessary to perpetuate the filthiest lies about gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Why was the administration for which millions of gay Americans had volunteered to elect, donated to, and voted for equating us to pedophiles? The answer appeared pretty simple to me at the time: this administration just doesn't give a damn. When our elected officials relegate us to the lowest ranks of society, no wonder our suicide rate is three to five times (PDF) that of the heterosexual one!
Just as my faith in the administration began to rally again, your administration decided that allowing the military to discharge LGBT service-people while the inquiry was underway was a-okay! And then when the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell came to a vote, did you bother to pick up the phone to be our "fierce advocate" behind the scenes? No, of course not, you don't give a damn as long as you can have our money and votes. Instead, you thought you had to call the WNBA champions that day. It couldn't wait!
Mr. President, this week, two more gay teenagers ended their lives at the barrel of a gun. The saddest part of this ordeal is that this event does not in any way distinguish this week from any other. And while surely the bullies, the Rick Warrens, those who ignored the cries for help and all the other bigots have blood on their hands, your unique kind of bigotry -- the kind that sits idly by while evil consumes everything around it -- is not nearly as neat as you think it. You too have blood on your hands. By placing us on the same moral plane as child molesters; by allowing us to continue to languish as second-class citizens; by inviting those who do evil to speak for you, you are complicit in the preventable deaths of so many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered kids.
Every Passover, the Jewish people recite the Four Questions, each of which begins with the question, "ma nishtanah?" -- "what has changed?" I am unspeakably disappointed in your administration, Mr. President, because for the last two years, my answer to that question with regard to gay and lesbian rights has been unavoidable: nothing.
In respect and sadness,