I am going to miss President Obama. On his final evening as President, I want to take a moment to tell you what he, as President, has meant to me.
The 2008 election was the first Presidential election I was ever able to vote in. I was a young Democrat at ASU, I was the Director of the Human Rights Campaign at ASU, and I had supported President Obama through the primary. I even volunteered for the ASU event, when he came and spoke to our campus and mispronounced Tempe.
The same night that President Obama was elected, several states, Arizona among them, passed gay marriage bans. You might remember proposition 8 in California. Well, in Arizona, it was proposition 102. I worked my ass off fight that so-called marriage amendment. I didn’t sleep that semester. I failed half my classes because I chose to campaign rather than go to class. The same night President Obama won, I was both happy and heart broken. Gay kids were killing themselves left and right, because of the public discourse, and hate filled campaigns that told them they were less than. I feared what passing gay marriage bans would do to those same kids.So,the same night President Obama won, and while I was thrilled that he won, I wept.
It is so hard for me to separate the issues of marriage equality and President Obama. In 2008, he was not in favor, publicly, of marriage equality. But he grew. He evolved. And he instructed his administration to stop defending the defense of marriage act. He nominated Supreme Court nominees who supported marriage equality, and in 2012, and thanks to Joe Biden pushing him on the subject, Obama was on board with marriage equality.
That election of 2012 was a great election night for me. ALL of the states that had gay marriage bans up for election voted them down. Arizona voted for the first openly bisexual Congresswoman (KYRSTEN!), and Obama won. I was thankful, happy, thrilled. I cried happy tears. I jumped up and down because finally we were turning the tide of these so-called marriage amendments. Finally, progress was happening in favor of marriage equality.
When the Supreme Court decided that the Defense of Marriage Act violated the equal protection class, I knew it was going to be just a matter of time before it became legal for gays to get married. This happened around the same time I met Eddie.
As my relationship with Eddie grew, so did support for marriage equality. So did the rights of gays to get married. So did Obama’s pressure on this country to allow gay marriage. He was now talking about it regularly.
In October of 2014, Arizona finally legalized gay marriage. Eddie and I almost went and got married on the same day it became legal. But we waited, until early June of 2015. We went to the court house and a friend of mine who is now a Justice of the Peace, married us. It was that same month, just mere weeks later, that the Supreme Court of the United States legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.
I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone who follows my Facebook, or my Twitter, or my life, how marriage has impacted my life. But let me just take a moment. I love being married. I love my husband. I love having a partner I can count on. I love knowing that when I hurt my leg he is there for me, and I am there for him through sickness and health. Almost immediately after we got married, I scored my current (dream) job. I wake up every day happy. Happiness hasn’t always been something I have found. I have been in abusive relationships. I have been depressed. I have attempted suicide. These are all things that have happened in my past, and have contributed to who I am today. I am not ashamed of these scars, but I am thankful that I am no longer alone in bearing them. I have Eddie. Marriage has brought out the best in me. It has helped me find peace. It has helped me find my own internal happiness. I don’t think marriage is for everyone, but I do know that my marriage is right for me. I know that I was meant to get married, and I know that it wouldn’t be possible without President Obama. Being married is one of the single greatest things I have been able to enjoy.
Today, on the eve of President Obama’s last night as our President, I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for doing what he needed to do to ensure that gays like myself could get married, and enjoy equal rights. I want to thank him for his service to our country. I also want to say that I do not feel that all hope is lost under a new administration. The hope and change that President Obama spoke of in 2006, 2007, 2008… is still with us. It is engraved in our being. It is engraved in our every fiber. President Obama has said that change isn’t going to happen over the course of one Presidency, or even one generation, and it isn’t. It is going to happen over the course of my lifetime, over the course of the lifetime of my niece and nephews. It’s going to happen because President Obama brought out the best in all of us. He brought out the best in our nation. He has shown what strength and resilience we have as a people. He has shown us all the good we can accomplish when we work together. I haven’t given up on hope, and you shouldn’t either. The greatness that lives in all of us, President Obama has brought out, and now is the time that we should be finding that greatness, harnessing it, and working together, even with people we do not like and we do not respect, to find common ground, to get things done, and to change hearts and minds. Hope is not lost. Change is not impossible. The best days of America are still ahead of us.