by Molly Shannon
President Obama promotes an openness that his opponent hopes to quash.I was raised by my Dad from the time I was four years old. In first grade, I remember complaining to my dad that I had holes in my red Keds and that I needed a new pair. He said “Holes in your shoes are good. It shows you have character!!! Be yourself! Don’t be like everyone else!” He encouraged me to express myself freely and openly as a young girl. To be unconditionally supported like that was invaluable—making me who I am today. It has also informed the way I am with my own children.
Similarly, one of the reasons that I support President Obama is because he promotes openness within the LGBT community. In fact, he’s appointed a vast number of openly gay officials during his term as president. Even as early as 2010, before half of his first term was complete, he had appointed more high ranking openly gay officials than any other president.
President Obama’s actions remind me of the words of the great Roman philosopher, Cicero, who said, “where is there dignity unless there is honesty?” The more honesty our government supports, the less indignities people will suffer. Especially those people who fear the repercussions of simply being who they honestly are.
A friend recently told me a story about a gay woman who, for over a decade, was in a loving and committed relationship. The couple shared a home and life together. When her partner was diagnosed with breast cancer and ultimately passed away, the family didn’t include her in the funeral arrangements. She wasn’t even acknowledged in the eulogy. It was as if they hoped to erase her from existence. With all that was happening, the surviving partner felt it too painful to muster the strength to fight this travesty. So… she became invisible. The love they shared for over a decade was left unacknowledged.
I feel strongly, that as President Obama continues to promote openness, not only does he help remove painful and destroying stigmas, he helps to advance our society and our humanity. Anytime someone is prevented from expressing who they honestly are, I feel it’s unfair and wrong. The freedom of self-expression and the pursuit of happiness lies at the very heart of what our country is supposed to be about.
Recognizing those who struggle with prejudice, bullying or basic inequality—and working to open eyes and hearts while also creating real change for LGBT Americans is what President Obama has been doing. He has done it more than any other President in history.
I believe in moving forward. I believe in making our civilization more civilized. Through his actions, President Obama has done this and I believe can continue to do it, with our support.
Los Angeles, California
Molly Shannon is an internationally known television, film and stage actress, comedienne and author.
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