This is a good letter. When Obama starts his explanation on opposing gay marriage, he uses the phrase “I”m a Christian.” Is he fueling the myth that being gay and being Christian are mutually exclusive? This taps into my deep concern that the modern politician is forced into Christians versus LGBTQ community position. Guess who loses? The Christo-flavored rhetoric of Obama gives me pause.
Although both you and Senator Clinton decline to support gay marriage per se, it is your statements on this issue that seem alienating, divisive, and uninformed and that subtly contribute to the persistence of one of this country’s worst forms of religious persecution and social bigotry. Even the possibility that you and your platform — wittingly or unwittingly — may contribute to the perpetuation of bigotry and prejudice in any way against anyone is, to our sensibilities, unthinkable.
While you are careful to appear to uphold and defend the GLBT community’s basic safety and legal rights, in a March 25, 2007, Chicago Tribune story that referenced comments you made during your 2004 run for the U.S. Senate, you led off your objections to gay marriage with the statement “I'm a Christian” [see below for full context of quote]. On its own as a part of your personal profile or in answer to a query about your personal beliefs, this statement is both appropriate and informative. But linked to your objections about gay marriage and by extension the gay lifestyle, it serves to entrench modern attitudes of religion-based bigotry and persecution and effectively implies that “gay” and “Christian” are mutually exclusive. This is not only wrong and uninformed but also flies in the face of the most basic Christian values and beliefs of unconditional love and acceptance.
Mr. Obama, you have clearly stated your reluctance to allow your private religious beliefs to shape your public policy. This is wise in theory but difficult in practice, because while you are free to interpret your personal religious beliefs in any way you choose, as a talented orator you realize that words are powerful and can also crucially shape both public policy and public opinion. This letter is not an attempt to change your personal opinions or religious beliefs on this or any other issue, but it is an invitation for you to reexamine your spoken expressions and public statements toward a segment of Americans about whom you clearly evidence a lack of knowledge and experience. Can we be gay? Can we be Christian? Perhaps now, Mr. Obama, you may be a bit more aware of the possibilities and the answer that must include us all in your visionary new world: Yes, We Can.
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