I have to be honest, when you ran for president the first time I was Team Hillary. I just thought she had more experience and I didn’t know you very well.
But when the primaries were over and you were the victor, I joined up; as a lifelong Democrat who seeks to help rather than harm, who seeks equality over division, who lives in hope rather than fear, I knew you’d be the right choice.
I remember getting teary-eyed on election night in 2008. I knew you’d win ... I knew it ... but still ... as we have learned this past November, there can be surprises.
So I cried a little when you won, not just because you’d be our first African American president, but because I thought you would serve us well.
And you have, sir, you have.
So, when you ran the second time I again stayed up late for the results. I remember pacing around my house—a house I now share with my husband, thank you very much for that—waiting and holding my breath, and when the results came in I sat down and I cried.
I have never felt as proud as I did that night. That second victory spoke volumes of your commitment to this country ... your commitment to us ...
Your commitment to give America healthcare; something many have tried—the Clintons last century—and many have tried to block—the GOP some fifty-seven times. But now, for now, some twenty million uninsured Americans are covered because of your commitment.
You took on a tanked economy and passed a Stimulus Act to bring us back from the edge. Many on the right called it a bad move while cashing your checks, mind you, but you were right. In the weeks after the stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside and today we have seen month after month of job growth and declining unemployment rates because of your commitment to us.
You stood up for the Middle Class Americans, something not many in your position have ever done.
You ended the War for Oil in Iraq and you eliminated Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11 and the man your predecessor once declared America’s Most Wanted and then ignored.
You helped make us feel a little safer from terror.
There are many more things you have done—for women, for the environment, for college students, for climate change—albeit with an obstructionist Congress fighting your every move, but there are two things you did that still to this day, even as I type this, make me weepy ...
You repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ... and allowed gay men and women to serve openly, and proudly, in our armed forces. You made Americans aware that gay men and women have always served, but in silence and in fear, but those days were over.
And then, in May of 2012, you said this:
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
And again I cried, because for the first time in my life a sitting American president said that I, a gay man, deserved equality; an American president actually mentioned me.
Those moments are ones that no matter who takes office today or in the future, can ever be taken away. As a gay man—and again, a now legally and happily married gay man—I feel like I belong, like I am no longer less than.
And so I thank you for that, Mister President, and I thank you for all those other things you have done that I don’t know if other presidents could have done, or even would have done.
But mostly, I thank you for your grace and your class in the face of adversity.
From the day Joe Wilson shouted “You lie,” and you stood firm and strong and dignified.
From the day Mitch McConnell declared that the GOP Congress would make certain you were a one-term president, you just went to work and did your job and got things done.
From the days of those racist jokes about you and your family and your children, and you never once attacked back. You showed us that the best defense isn’t being offensive, it’s being dignified and rising above the fray.
You showed us that, no matter who says what about you that you won’t respond in kind.
You’ve given us Michelle Obama, one of the classiest most dignified First Ladies I’ve seen in a long time; a woman who taught us all to go high, to rise above. The things said about her, written about her, and she remained lifted up and proud.
Those are lessons we all needed to learn, from children to the elderly and you showed us how.
I worry about this country now, in light of what happened in November, and I worry that your presidency of hope and dignity and trying to help those less fortunate, those who have not, those who’ve felt less than, might morph into something horrendous,
But, again, you spoke to us and you assured us that, while things might change, we can hope, we can rise ..
"I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad. I believe tragic things happen. I think there's evil in the world, but I think at the end of the day, if we work hard and if we're true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time…. I think we’re going to be OK. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it and not take it for granted.”
We are more good than bad, but I think we got too complacent; we thought that after eight years of your commitment and accomplishments that we were on the right path, and we could stay on that path, so maybe a few of us sat out the election and this happened.
But I will try not to focus on that. I will try to carry myself as you have done, with dignity and grace and elegance and I will work, as you have done for the last eight years, on making America the country you envisioned, the country you walked us toward, the country you believed in.
I will keep on hoping and rising above and trying to make you as proud of this country as I have been of you and your family.