I went to see President Obama speak in Green Bay yesterday, and was lucky enough to have a ticket that got me very close to the stage. It was on the tarmac of Green Bay’s airport, and Air Force One flew him in.
And after giving a very cool, new stump speech, he shook a few hands, including mine.
photo by Mary Lisa Carenza Keenan
And I thought, as I watched him continue around the circle of people who were clamoring to shake his hand, that I could not think of anyone, right now, who I admire more than him. (Here are some more pictures of that event.)
It’s an amazing thing to get to look your own president in the eye. More amazing still to feel him squeeze your hand. His warmth came across powerfully, and the smart in his eyes is unmistakeable. That man’s got a deep soul; he is, as people who believe in that sort of thing would say, an old soul.
But the source of my admiration isn’t all of that. It’s that he believes – and has put into place – policy that makes my life as a queer person and as the partner of a trans person one of dignity and respect. I feel actually equal and a little less scared living in a world where this White House gets to set policy on how I should be treated by my government and by the people around me.
He is the first president to say the word “transgender” in a speech. He got rid of DADT. He has refused to defend the hateful, unequal citizenship of DOMA. And after learning more about us queer folks, he changed his mind about same sex marriage for citizens of this country.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I believe in him as a president and as a leader. He has set a tone for this entire country that I am not to be less equal because of who I am or who I am married to.
And while I do understand that people are worried about economics, I only have this to say: economic decisions are always, also, moral ones, and this man has been stitching our social safety net for the four years he has been in office and has plans to make sure those stitches hold.
I’ll write more tomorrow about economics and their place in this election.
But I will say: if you believe that it is my citizenship and not my sexuality that should count, vote for Obama. If you believe that it is my humanity and not my gender that should count, vote for Obama. And if you believe that it is my patriotism, and my deep, deep love for a country where someone like me can live unafraid and proud of my love and my life, that matters, vote for Obama.