Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Easter visit with President Obama

When then Senator Obama visited Arizona during the Presidential Democratic primary I had the opportunity to meet him during a VIP event. My 80 year old Mom was spending the day at work with me so I took her along. He made a predicable stump speech before going out to greet the thousands of supporters awaiting his arrival. During the gathering after he finished his remarks Sen. Obama fielded a few questions from our small group. They were predictable “softball questions” on immigration, the economy, education and health care. Raising my hand I got the last question. Mom holds her breath.

I simply asked, “Senator Obama, if you are elected President would you invite LGBT families onto the White House lawn for the Easter egg roll?” Honestly, he was surprised by my simple question, as were the others in the room. You see, Mom and I were invited guests to a gathering of predominately African-American community and religious leaders. What came next gave me hope that he “got it”.

Obama said, “You mean they aren’t invited now?” I said, “No sir we are not and frankly it’s not just the lawn we have been shut out of when it comes to the way our country disrespects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” Obama then took that opportunity to do what he did so many other times during the campaign. He took what could have easily been a yes or no answer and spoke directly to the religious leaders about their voice and personal responsibility to say there is no room in our communities for discrimination. I had hoped his comments of inclusion, respect for all families and taking care of each other would motivate those in the room to defeat Prop 102 and of course, if he won the Presidency would actually pass federal policy that mattered.

One dream lost, I’m waiting to see how the rest of the story turns out.

On the drive home, Mom said, “he is a nice young man – and handsome.” She then asked what I thought of Obama and the way he answered my question. I simply said he knows how to work a room that’s for sure – but I will still vote for Hillary.

By the way, Obama eventually did say “yes” he would ensure LGBT families are part of the White House Easter celebration. Thank you, Mr. President for keeping your word to Mrs. Jones’ little girl…who really does like Easter egg hunts.

posted by Barbara McCullough-Jones

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