Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Michelle O to SF Gay Photographer:
'Give Your Husband a Hug From Me'

[Hello visitors from Andrew Sullivan's site. Be sure to read this post about Human Rights Watch not keeping a promise to release a report on gay Iranians. Thanks, Andrew, for the great coverage on the Iranian democratic revolution and the link today. -michael]

My friend Bill Wilson, a veteran gay photographer of many decades, had the chance to get close to our First Lady during her visit to San Francisco yesterday. Bill not only snapped lots of pics, he also had a short exchange with her. Here's his report:
Thought you might be interested in an exchange I had with First Lady Michelle Obama this afternoon.

About a month ago I registered to volunteer at the playground build at Bret Harte Elementary School this morning. I found out Friday night that Mrs. Obama was going to be there.

I knew I had to say something to her about DOMA if I had the opportunity and this was the result, as I remember it:

Bill Wilson: My husband and I have been together 23 years. We need to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Michelle Obama: I agree.

Bill Wilson: We need it done now.

Michelle Obama: It will be.

Bill Wilson: I really want to be able to support him.

Michelle Obama: As well you should!

Bill Wilson: We really do want him to succeed.

Michelle Obama: I’ll tell him.

(At this point she leaned over to give me a hug.)

As she stepped away I said, “We were married by the Mayor last year.”

Michelle Obama: Give your husband a hug from me.
Good going, Bill! Thanks for making sure Michelle Obama heard the concerns of the gay community during her visit.

For more info on Bill and his husband Fernando, and to view more of his pics of the First Lady's time at the playground, click here.

And to reach Bill, send email to: wfwilson(at)sbcglobal(dot)net.

Fernando and Bill getting hitched last year, with Mayor Newsom officiating.


mzvky said...

I am, unexpectedly, saddened to find that reading this has had no affect on me. No rush of hope, no glimmer of faith, no quietly mouthed whisper of "thank you", face lifted with eyes closed and fingers crossed. No matter what he does now it will carry the pall of political appeasement instead of the purposeful action of a courageous president making good on his campaign promise to a beleaguered people. I don't know if I will ever forgive him for taking away one of the few things left that I believed in. If that makes me immature and unrealistic - so be it. I am so tired of taking the high-road.

Randy said...

mzvky-what do you mean by "I don't know if I will ever forgive him for taking away one of the few things left that I believed in." Because this was a conversation between the First Lady and a photographer, if DOMA is repealed, it will not have the same significance as if he had already done it? Indeed you ARE being immature and unrealistic if you believe that any action taken by an elected official doesn't have some degree of political motivation behind it.

mzvky said...

Randy -- First of all, you would be hard-pressed to find a more devoted apostle of Barack Obama. (I live in Chicago and have worked on two of his campaigns.) If he was your average schmuck of a politician his fall from grace would have been expected sooner or later. Or had he simply done nothing about DOMA, or given a tepid "justification" full of holes that he could use to undo it at a later date, I would be disappointed by his inaction, but OK.

But he did not do that.

I read his DOMA defense in its entirety - line by line - and if I had not been aware that this brief was submitted by the Obama administration I would have thought for sure it was issued by George W. Bush... comparing our relationships to incest; explicitly saying the laws that apply to black people do not apply to gay people because we have no legal status; saying that homosexuals are not being discriminated against by DOMA because they are still free to marry anyone they choose - so long as they are adults, are not related by blood - and not of the same gender.

Please re-read that last sentence.

Worse – whoever actually wrote it made certain that every single possible criterion for supporting DOMA was spelled out in crystal clear legaleez - and that every argument against supporting it was shot down in a hail of court precedents. This was not written by someone who intended, at some point in time, to work to have it repealed. There is no language to serve as the basis for that. It was written by somebody who intended to make sure it remained the law of the land - even to the point of challenging the validity of the precious few court rulings we have actually won.

I am well-aware that Obama is a politician. But we all had reason to expect he was also something more. Something special. That is what his entire campaign was about. The absolute last thing any of us should have had to worry about was his office filing a legal brief with the justice department in glowing support of a piece of legislation he, himself, said was discriminatory and that he pledged he would work to repeal.

The gaping question is WHY? I don’t think we will ever get an answer. And no encouraging words, however sincere and well-intended, from Michelle Obama can undo what her husband made a conscious choice to do. So all I can take from the experience is that Barack Obama is a politician and someone whom we cannot trust to do the right thing by us unless we are pulling our funding. I have done everything in my power to promote and support this man, and his presence in the world and my allegiance to him gave me hope. That hope is gone and only the reality remains. Forgive me if that makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

mzvky - I agree with you completely. We had such hope that, as dual nationals with a home in MA, and our "summer" home in QC, we could continue this arrangement in perpetuity. 33 years together and a six year old son in tow.

Our first inkling was the Rick Warren/Gene Robinson debacle. When it took an HBO re-run to edit Gene back into the programme, I knew it.
When DADT and DOMA were "kicked down the road", we switched our homes to make MA our summer place.

We are now full-time residents of Canada because we cannot trust the centrist to conservative Democratic administration and their similar leaders in the Congress. Liberals and progressives in Congress (House and Senate)are "celebrities without power". Obama has decided that centrists to conservatives -of the Democratic, Republican or independent Americans is the only constituency he will listen to. He has only ONE motive, ONE goal, and that is anything but ONE term in office.

mzvky said...

I am so sorry to hear of your situation. For me it is only a political disappointment. For you it has translated into hardship with real consequences. I hope we can make people see there is a problem here and that this administration must no longer be give a free pass just because we don't want to accept the heartache of knowing our valiant leader is not who he had made himself out to be. You are right... he is playing to the center - as all politicians do. But I never thought we would be thrown under the bus as he appears to have done. Not 'our' Obama...