BY SUSAN ESTRICH
And now you are so disappointed. You feel betrayed. Were you such a fool? Was he really so lacking in ways you didn’t know – in experience or resolve or humanity? How can this man who moved so many now seem so distant and aloof, so arrogant and unconnected, so lacking in resolve?
Hold that thought. Or let it perish, at least for now.
On Sept. 20, 2011, something historic happened in this country, and it is thanks to Obama.
Thousands of men and women who are risking their lives for this country no longer have to lie and hide to do so. They no longer have to put up pictures of their supposed “girlfriends” or “boyfriends” so that others won’t think they are gay.
They can be gay. They can be lesbians. They can serve their country with pride and not worry about the day they might be shamed and discharged.
Sept. 20, 2011, is the beginning of a new era in the military. Just as discrimination on the basis of race was finally eliminated decades ago, so, too, now, thanks in large part to this president, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is history.
It should have happened years ago. The policy was shameful. We owe countless men and women – not only those who were discharged, but also those who gave their lives in secret or have risked their lives in hiding – an apology. We owe them our thanks. We were wrong.
The policy has changed.
Military leaders – who fought the idea of such a change when President Clinton, soon after taking office, suggested it – have changed.
Attitudes in this country have changed.
But the most important change of all is the one in the White House. President George W. Bush never would have done it. I don’t believe that a President McCain – much less a Vice President Palin – would have done it.
Yes, there is plenty of room for disappointment. I wish the president had drawn a line in the sand during the debt default talks, that he had not, ultimately, let the Tea Party and its chief partier House Speaker John Boehner dictate the terms. I wish the president could stir the country as president like he once did as a candidate. I wish a lot of things. So does everyone I know who voted for Obama.
But every once in a while, in between complaining and bemoaning, it is right to pause to recognize that our votes did make a difference, and so has this president.
Life is different today for Americans who have long deserved our appreciation and respect. Life is different today because one more vestige – surely not the last, but still important – has been lifted. Life is different today because there was change in Washington. That change has now made its way to every corner of the world where our brave young men and women proudly serve this country.
Today, I’m not complaining. Today, I am proud of my president and proud of my country.
– Susan Estrich’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer