I’m happy to report Obama has been saying some awesome things lately about equality and tolerance! Most of these probably aren’t going to be news to you since I’m a bit behind on the blogging (sorry!) but since I’ve been fairly critical of our president in the past few months, I figure its only fair to post this here. Plus its always good to focus on the happy, just for a little while at least, before continuing on with the work that needs to be done. And so…
– Obama declares June LGBT Pride Month!
“LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
– From the President’s Official Press Release
– Obama adresses Women’s Rights in a speech made in Cairo!
I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.”
– President Obama in Cairo, Thursday June 4th
– Obama’s Graduation Speech at Notre Dame attempts to bring people together*.
“It is this last challenge that I’d like to talk about today. For the major threats we face in the 21st century – whether it’s global recession or violent extremism; the spread of nuclear weapons or pandemic disease – do not discriminate. They do not recognize borders. They do not see color. They do not target specific ethnic groups.
Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history. […]
The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.
The question, then, is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side? […]
– Obama at the Notre Dame Commencement, May 17th.
I may not agree with every policy choice he makes, but having a President who is willing to speak out about the need for change certainly is a step in the right direction! Now, lets get working to make his words into action.
* His last speech, of course, was about abortion specifically but I believe his general sentiment can be applied to any disagreement really. This speech is especially poignant and applicable in the wake of Dr. George Tiller’s murder; how I wish his killer had been pushed towards “Open hearts. Open minds. Fair minded words” instead of violence.