Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Eric Rader
Last week, President Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate in an effort to quell the ridiculous assertion of Donald Trump and others that he was not born in this country. Only a few days later, our commander-in-chief announced that American Special Forces, on his orders, had killed the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden. In making this decision, President Obama demonstrated that he is more than qualified to lead and protect this nation from danger, regardless of the irrational fears and doubts of the lunatic “birthers” and other conspiracy theorists. Our times demand real leaders, not narcissistic reality television stars like Trump masquerading as leaders.
Unfortunately, it appears that America’s first president with a non-European name is required to meet different eligibility standards with some folks than presidents of European origins. The president’s birth certificate, along with contemporaneous newspaper notices of his 1961 birth in a Hawaiian hospital, should be ample documentation that he was born in this country. The birthers, however, won’t let the facts get in the way of their bigoted efforts to cast the president as somehow different from mainstream Americans.
The LGBT community certainly understands what it’s like to endure paranoid and prejudiced lies from opponents. For many years, far right-wing politicians and religious leaders have claimed that our “lifestyle” is “deviant.” Those with a sexual orientation or gender identity different from the norm are classified as abnormal in some quarters. This bigotry is then used as a reason to deny basic rights to gays and to marginalize the LGBT community. There are some in the right wing who obsessively fixate on LGBTs, even though most Americans rarely think about the sexual orientation and gender identity of other people. A number of new Republican governors and members of Congress continue to use bigoted terms when referring to LGBTs, in attempt to perpetuate discriminatory policies. For these public officials, a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity can make her or him undeserving of the basic rights that all citizens are entitled to enjoy.
Thankfully, most Americans are more rational and intelligent when it comes to these issues. In the case of President Obama’s birth certificate story, it appears that the vast majority of the general public is on the side of reason, and rejects the conspiracy theories on which the birther movement is based. However, sizeable numbers of self-identified Republicans believe that the president was born in a foreign country. On gay rights, rational people understand that it is fundamentally wrong that the U.S. denies basic equality to the LGBT community. Again, many conservatives believe that there is something morally wrong with LGBTs, making us undeserving of any legal protections.
These are serious times for our nation. Gas prices are soaring, too many people are unemployed, the threat of terrorism is still significant even with the death of Osama bin Laden, and natural disasters demand our leaders’ attention. This is not the time to lose focus on what’s important. Political debate is perfectly legitimate in the U.S. – that’s what the First Amendment is all about. Unfortunately, some people on the political right believe that their job is to undermine the moral and legal legitimacy of others, whether it’s the president or people whose background is different from what they consider to be normal.
After September 11, 2001, Americans were united in grief and a determination to achieve justice for the victims of the terrorist attacks. The killing of Osama bin Laden has reunited most Americans and should remind all of us of the danger that still exists in this world. It’s important to keep our focus on issues of consequence, not trivialities like birth certificates and conspiracy theories that serve to divide people.
We elect our leaders to take care of serious matters like economic security, civil liberties, equality, and most importantly, the safety and security of the country. Let’s hope that we can move on from recent efforts to divide Americans and face our nation’s enormous challenges with the same determination and focus exhibited by our president last week in confronting terrorism. Our nation’s problems can only be solved if we remain united as citizens. There were people of all backgrounds killed on September 11, including patriots who happened to be LGBT. We should work hard to remind our fellow citizens that we are part of the American family too, and deserve to be included in the blessings of liberty that are the birthright of citizenship. True unity can only be achieved when all of people are treated equally and with genuine dignity.
President Obama’s statement on releasing his birth certificate:
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force information on the Anti-Gay Industry in America: