Last night at a political fundraiser in Las Vegas, President Barack Obama made a pitch for nearly everything under the sun: better education, "change" in Washington, improved national fuel efficiency standards and a host of other things, even a plug for his new U.S. Supreme Court justice pick, Sonia Sotomayor.
But while gay and straight protestors, many of whom probably voted for him and/or worked on his successful 2008 presidential campaign, were marching in the streets of Los Angeles only a four-hour car drive away, the president mentioned nothing about the California Supreme Court ruling that officially banned same sex marriage in this state.
Interestingly, during his push for Sotomayor, Obama said: "Sonia Sotomayor's life is proof that all things are possible. And when she ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the highest court of the land, America will take another important step towards realizing the ideal that's chiseled above its entrance: Equal justice under the law."
Exactly where gays and lesbians fit into that uniquely American concept, especially when it comes to same sex marriage, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which, among other things, defines marriage between one man and one woman, is still unknown. Obama, for the most part, has been silent on these issues since entering the White House.
Tonight, at the Beverly Hilton at 6 p.m., gays and their straight supporters have the golden opportunity to finally get some answers. "We have to just keep pushing Obama," says Torie Osborn, the former executive director of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, who worked as a volunteer on the Obama campaign and fully supports the new president.
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"You have to remember that even our friends make mistakes," Osborn says, "and you have to remind them of their responsibilities."
David Mixner, a longtime gay rights activist and political insider in the Democratic party, says it's very important for people to show up tonight at the Beverly Hilton, where Obama will be attending another fundraiser. "I would chant, 'Join us, join us, join us!' You don't want to just piss people off. You want them to get involved." Mixner is also a fan of the president.
By this evening, gays and their straight friends have the rare chance to confront the most powerful man in the world on their home turf and bring him over to their side.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.