Friday, April 16, 2010

Loving Our Neighbors

As progressives, we are often dissatisfied with the tepid liberalism of our President. We expect Guantanamo to be closed tomorrow, our troops to withdraw from Afghanistan within the next 2 years, and our policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to be revoked immediately. Although we support and fight for the President's agenda, I know as well as you do, that the glass is half-empty most of the time. It is only in times of great jubilance over major legislative victories that we are enthusiastic in the way we were back in November of 2008.

Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order to grant visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners in all hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. I encourage you to consider the significance of this action. While we had not seen any major changes in GLBT rights yet (still waiting on DADT repeal), I believe this to be a giant step in the right direction.

Through baby steps, Americans begin to realize that their well-being isn't adversely affected by the rights bestowed upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. When the stigma of our outdated policies fades away, it becomes easier to confront the major hurdles that keep us from the ultimate goal: national recognition of gay marriage. There are others that support my claim that the President is in fact making meaningful progress toward this goal. Here is a good assortment of perspectives on the President's approach to GLBT rights. The Washington Post (a day after me) seems to agree.

In the end, I believe history will smile favorably upon President Obama and his efforts to secure rights for the GLBT community. As the number of homophobic and homo-resistant Americans shrinks, and the middle-grounders who have advocated half-hearted consolation prizes become normalized to basic GLBT rights, we will witness the change we have fought for.

At Notre Dame, we have just finished the StaND Against Hate week, dedicated to "ending all forms of hate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and serves to create an inclusive spirit at Notre Dame for all people, irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity." It is so fitting that we should witness such a relevant action by our President during this time. As Catholics or non-Catholics, we can reflect upon the movement for universal civil rights in the words of Jesus of Nazareth, who calls us to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39), all of them.

(photo courtesy of the San Francisco Sentinel)


Jessica said...

Great story, Henry! I share your optimism and enthusiasm about the prospect of achieving our goals. Thanks for keeping things positive.

Rabi Abonour said...

The problem is that people who normally don't pay that much attention to politics fell in love with Obama. They listened to "Yes we can" and expected Rome to be built in a day, and that's just not how things work.

NotJustAStarvingArtist said...

The problem with him granting same-sex couples visitation rights is that it very well might cripple the movement in the long haul. Visitation rights was the most sympathetic issues that gay rights activists had. Without it the fight is going to be more difficult.