Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stand With Obama and Weep for Matthew Shephard

He said in the beginning that he would try always to do the right thing even if that made him a one-term president. And he meant it.

He belongs now with those two Democratic presidents who faced losing half their party in order to do the right thing. JFK and LBJ stood up for the rights of African Americans against the inhumane racism of the South. Until then the white South was solidly Democratic. Signing  the great Civil Rights Act, LBJ said, "Today I have lost the South for the Democrats for a generation." And he had. For more than a generation! For over a half century, with no end in sight.

But there is another end in sight now: an ending to the cruel bigotry of the anti-gays. As one commentator said, there has never been a time in American history when a president chose to advance human rights that the people did not eventually follow. Is Obama's brave stand the beginning of the end of the horror of a young college boy leaping to his death from a bridge because he has been exposed as gay? Of countless other youngsters committing suicide because they can't take the bullying? Of Matthew Shephard tortured and then crucified on a barbed wire fence in a lonely stretch of Wyoming?

Matthew Shepard died for OUR sins. Our failure to stick up for our brothers and sisters long ago. Our failure to do the right thing all along and organize to be as militantly supportive of gays and lesbians as the forces against them.

We must not fail again. If Obama does not win this election, it is not just because he lost votes by choosing the right thing. It's because we let him down. We walked away from a vision that has just become immensely brighter.

This was not just Obama's redemptive test. It is ours. We whites knew what we were proclaiming when we worked for him and voted for him and contributed money in 2008. We stood with Martin Luther King on the top of that mountain, and we too saw the Promised Land. Now is our chance  -  again  -  for redemption, the redemption of America's blighted history. And our own redemption for our prior sins of indifference to the persecution of our gay brothers and sisters.

We now stand on that wind-swept road in Wyoming and behold the poor broken body of young Matthew Shepard. We all face a choice: this election is our moment. If we don't do all we can to get Obama's back in this struggle, we are nothing more than hypocrites. We have the chance to push history further in the right direction. If we don't do the right thing, we have condemned more children to ugly death.

Too simplistic? No! Too emotional? Definitely not! It is, instead, simplistic and escapist to blame "society"for the ills that beset us. WE are society! And what each of us does matters infinitely.

Be glad to be one who can help weight the scales against cruelty and death. Rejoice with all those unforgettably happy couples getting married in San Francisco's City Hall. Contrast the image of their joyful love with that of Matthew Shephard hanging on that fence. And make the right choice.

Don't kid yourself, whether you're gay or straight. If Obama loses this election, the loss will be attributed to his stance on same-sex marriage. A people yearning to be free will be thrown backward into darkness. So will women, the old, the sick, and the hungry children. The GOP proposals for governing this country are EVIL! Not just for gays but for all but the very rich.

Please. As an old woman, I plead for all my millions of children and grandchildren whose fate and future hang on this election. Help this good, brave Obama! And thereby help all of us who are too old, too young, too sick, too marginalized to save ourselves.

Go do what you must do. Support the man who risked it all to do the right thing. Give till it hurts. Work for him until you drop. Speak up for him no matter the risk to you. And pray that no one shoots him. For the winds of hate will be blowing harder now.

And we all must be brave and strong. Are YOU the people that Obama hoped for? Are you the people I have hoped for. Are you the help that Matthew Shephard hoped for?

Or are you the help that never came to save him?




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