Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is "HOPE" lost?

It was probably September or October of last year. I was still a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova and it had to be a weekend since I was taking a trip to Chisinau, the capital. I stopped by the Peace Corps office and picked up my mail: OMG, a ballot! Having heard horror stories from other volunteers who previously never received their ballots overseas I was really worried about getting mine and was surprised I actually got it.

My mind was (obviously) already made up - Barack Obama. "Yes, we can!" HOPE! Change!!!!! I connected my arrow to his name, then very prominently voted NO on Proposition 8 and finally, after doing some research on local politics I was clueless on up until that point, I finished the rest of the ballot and mailed it off.

Fast forward a month of so - November 4th. As luck would have it, we education volunteers had a training in the capital that whole week, so we were put up at the Zarea Hotel in Chisinau (0.01 stars). While the accommodations were terrible - no showers, no sinks, creaky beds with ancient mattresses - the one thing this hotel had in each room was a TV. On that TV, in black and white, BBC was available. I stayed up late watching all the election results come in - Ohio! Pennsylvania!! Florida!!! I lay wide awake, my eyes glued to the little TV set, until 4am when it was finally announced that Barack Obama had won the presidential election.

Then he marched out. He made his speech and there was an acknowledgment in the first minute that gave me chills and almost brought tears to my eyes: "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."

Wow. The President of the United States of America recognizes who I am and thinks I am an equal citizen of this country. Finally.

Fast forward a few months. Where did that man go? Recently, some extremely qualified servicemen and women have been fired from the military due to their sexual orientation under the policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". See this video from "The Rachel Maddow Show" below to get some more information about this.

Yesterday, Ana Marie Cox, a reporter with Air America, was brave enough to actually tackle this issue head on by asking White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, a question regarding the recent firings of gay servicemen and women. See below for the hypocritical response given - it contradicts the first video's statement, which contained official information from the Pentagon stating that no action on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been taken.

So listen, I am willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt here - maybe it's just miscommunication existing in his administration or just a disconnect with the Pentagon that needs to be cleared up. But the bottom line is that these are human lives, reputable careers that have been built up, lauded, and sacrificed for the greater good of our nation that are now being shattered for a reason that has absolutely nothing to do with military service. How can our politicians in good faith stand back and just let this happen? How can we accept all of the heroism that gay and lesbian service people have given us, then refuse them equal opportunity and full disclosure?

I know one thing. I cannot, in good faith, support a president who knows that this is happening and does nothing about it. Would I take back my vote if I knew this was going to happen? Probably not. However, I'm glad that tears only ALMOST welled up in my eyes that early morning on November 5th, because tears of relief and hope actually cried would clearly have been in vain.

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