In my desire to hold onto the Obama presidency for as long as possible, I watched all of the TV specials that aired last week highlighting our 44th President’s greatest accomplishments. And I didn’t miss CNN’s special report on the role model also known as “mom-in-chief” either. I have appreciated the President these past eight years for his vision, his leadership, his temperament, and his hope. And as the mom of a queer kid, I am grateful for all he’s done to further the freedom, equality, and safety of LGBTQ people.
So in these last hours of his presidency, I want to honor Barack Obama’s legacy in support of the LGBTQ community by sharing a personal letter he wrote to some Facebook friends of mine. First, a little background.
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created by Liz Dyer as an extension of her Serendipitydodah blog. The Facebook group is stealth so that only members can find it or see what’s posted. The group was launched in June 2014 specifically for open-minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ children and want to have healthy, loving relationships with them. It’s a safe space where members can share information and encourage one another. In full disclosure, while I’m neither Christian nor religious, I like to think of myself among the majority of people who believe in the inherent goodness of all, treating each other with kindness and respect, and loving each other as fellow humans.
The Serendipitydodah for Moms Facebook group, which presently has more than 1,500 members, often sends letters of thanks and support to individuals, churches, and organizations that support LGBTQ+ equality and protection. Last May, when the Obama administration instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, they sent the following letter to President Obama.
Dear Mr. President,
We are a part of a large private Facebook group of more than 1,000 Christian moms of LGBTQ+ kids.
Our group was created for Christian moms who have LGBTQ+ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ+ kids.
More than 250 of us are signing this letter because we want to say thank you for all you have done for LGBTQ+ people. Your commitment to include and protect LGBTQ+ people throughout your presidency has given us so much hope for our children’s future.
We are very encouraged by your actions and want you to know that we are praying that God will protect, strengthen, guide and bless you.
We believe that your action not only reflects the true spirit of America, but also demonstrates the idea that Paul put forth in Galatians 5:6 when he wrote “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” We are forever hopeful that others will follow your just and compassionate example.
Liz Dyer, Founder & Owner
Liz and the 250+ mom signers who are public about their participation in the group were hopeful their letter would reach the President. Of the 40,000 letters that arrived at the White House each day during his presidency, they knew his staff selected the ten he’d read each night. They were also aware that a response was never guaranteed. But read and reply President Obama did!
Thank you for writing. Throughout our history, generations of Americans have brought us closer to fulfilling the ideals at the heart of our Nation’s founding—that all of us are equal, and that all of us should be free to make of our lives what we will.
Our country has come far in its acceptance of transgender Americans, but transgender individuals still face terrible violence, abuse, and poverty here at home and around the world. I know that some people have a hard time understanding what it means to be transgender, especially if they haven’t had the opportunity to know someone who openly identifies that way. As brave individuals come out at all levels of business, government, sports, and entertainment, the power of their example is slowly but surely changing hearts and minds.
We need to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to build for the many young people struggling with their identities who deserve a childhood free from harassment or ridicule. Too many transgender people, especially youth, take their own lives because of discrimination and violence, and no one should ever feel so alone or desperate that they feel they have nowhere to turn. That’s why my Administration took a stance against the use of conversion therapy on minors, and why we have been working to address bullying. And when schools sought advice about how to ensure learning environments are respectful and inclusive for all students, the Department of Education provided guidance to educators—because all of our children deserve to know that their safety is protected and that their dignity is affirmed.
We have also taken actions to help ensure that transgender Americans have the same rights as any other Americans. I issued an Executive Order that prohibits discrimination in employment by Federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and I signed legislation that includes protections against hate crimes. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there are now important protections in place against discrimination in healthcare, including discrimination based on gender identity. And this year, my Administration lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving in our Armed Forces—because no American who wishes to serve our country should face unnecessary barriers, and our military is strongest when it draws on the skills and talents of all our people.
Again, thank you for writing. Please know I will keep pushing to advance the safety and dignity of every American as long as I hold this Office and beyond.
While I remain so moved by his response, it’s that “and beyond” in his letter that I’m counting on. I know President Obama will never let up on the future we hope for. And I know there are millions of moms who are right there with him, every step of the way, fighting for a future that delivers freedom, equality, and safety for all children.
Top image: White House Photographer Pete Souza
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