October 12th, 2009
11:21 AM ET

Dear President Obama #266: When is a good time for gay rights?

Reporter's Note: President Obama has promised to be a fierce advocate of gay and lesbian rights. So far, a lot of gays and lesbians are not so convinced; the subject of my daily letter to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/11/obama.gay.rights.reax/art.obama.hrc.gi.jpg caption="President Obama speaks to a major gay-rights group Saturday night in Washington."]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Point of reference before I say anything else: My wife and I were unpacking our Halloween decorations this afternoon when my brother called. He and I launched into a long discussion, one thing led to another, and now I am seated in the kitchen writing this letter in full pirate regalia. I’ve been answering every question for the past hour with “Arghhhh,” and the girls have all about had it with me. I, on the other hand, am having a blast. Ah, the joys of Halloween season. Putting on a costume for a few hours and pretending to be someone else is a lot of fun.

BTW: I bet it will be a hoot for you to see all those kids in latex “you” masks running up and down the streets on Halloween night. If I were president I’m pretty sure I’d crash some costume party, just to listen to people carry on about what a great disguise I had. Ha! But maybe not. You politicos are accused of putting on false faces all the time as it is. A case in point: Your relations with the gay and lesbian communities. Tens of thousands of them marched on the Capitol over the weekend demanding marriage rights, equality, and an end to the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell rule. And more than a few think that you are talking the talk, but not walking the walk of being on their side.

Gay rights is an admittedly tricky area because we, as a nation, still haven’t decided where we stand on such matters, yet people are passionate on both sides of the issue. I can understand how any president would be wary of taking decisive action, knowing the political firestorm that will certainly follow. Without question, you could be greatly distracted from your ambitious agenda if you engaged in a political fistfight over gay rights at this moment, and I’m sure you have plenty of advisors who have given you just those words of caution.

On the other hand, caution is precisely what many of your supporters fear on this front. They still very much want to believe in you, but they know a basic political truth: There will be no “good” time for you to take on this subject. There will simply be either a courageous stand on a principle you espoused during your campaign; or there will not be. And there will be a political price to pay, either way.

Good luck in your decision. Call if you want to chew it over. I have to stop now. Typing with this hook is much more difficult than you might imagine. Arghhh.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Kim

    "Don't ask,don't tell ?" What does the majority of our military think about this issue ? If all in the military could take a vote to decide, what would the results be ? What does Vice president Biden mean by Predator Drone strikes and special forces to target ? What is a predator drone ? If you don't ask,ya won't know !

    October 12, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  2. Robert

    Truly, I've grown weary of being praised for my courage in coming out by persons without the courage to respond appropriately.

    October 12, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  3. paula

    The many things that have been promised during the election are yet to be seen. I am for Gay rights and the president should address what he has promised.

    October 12, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  4. Matthew

    I think Arianna Huffington recently spoke well on the topic of leadership. She said: "leadership isn't splitting the difference." At some point, leaders need to take a side- especially when the "leader" has made a point to be a "fierce advocate."

    October 12, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  5. Cindy

    Why should anyone gay or straight believe a word that Obama said at the dinner? He promised those exact same things during the election campaigning and we all see what he has done so far. NADA!! He's just doing more of the same trying to save face. He won't do a thing to help the gay community. If he wanted to he already would have. DADT can easily be done away with yet he hasn't done it yet. Like I said...empty promises!


    October 12, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  6. JGB

    Seems the majority of people support equal rights, but do not support redefining marriage. Gays should have equal rights but their unions should be Civil Unions. Marriage is husband and wife, man and woman. Civil Unions are partners. To redefine marriage and rewrite the vows proves it is NOT the same.

    October 12, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  7. miriam zapata

    If he passes better health insurance reform, he would be helping everyone much more. Although equal rights is still an issue we must continue to fight for.

    October 12, 2009 at 8:50 am |