The Obama campaign has stepped up their efforts to court the LGBT community by buying targeted ads in Texas and Ohio. Today, they released an open letter written by Barack Obama addressed to the LGBT community. In this letter he expresses his commitment to building an America based on the principle of "equality for all." As well, he states that "It's wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation."
However, after reading the letter I see it as no more than what it's meant to be - a campaign stunt that promises little to truly advance the "second-class" status of many Americans for one major reason: that a person who identifies as LGBT cannot extend their full citizenship rights to their spouse if their spouse is of a nationality other than American.
Every year in this country hundreds of thousands of Americans marry non-American citizens, who are then eligible for US permanent residency status if their American spouses sponsor them. Once they obtain permanent residency status they are able to legally live and work in the US without a visa. However, LGBT couples do NOT have this right and will not under Obama ( or Hillary or McCain for that matter). In fact, thousands of these couples live everyday knowing that at anytime their significant others may be forced to return to their country of origin once their visas expire and can no longer legally live in the states. I personally know two couples who have moved to England and Canada to be with the one they love.
It is often said that you don't always choose who you love. And furthermore, is it the government's business to tell you who you can and cannot fall in love with? Shouldn't every citizen - straight and LGBT - in our country be able to love and live the rest of their lives with the one they choose?
If Obama, or any of the major candidates for presidency, truly believe in equality for all they should really think about what they're saying because this is not fooling me, nor should you let it fool you. Passing the Matthew Shepard Act or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act may make discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal, it does not give LGBTs equal rights when it comes to citizenship. If Obama truly believes that all Americans should be equal, then give all LGBTs the full citizenship rights that all straight citizens have. If he truly believes that all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have equal rights, then have the guts to mandate it on a national level. Leaving the issue for each individual state to decide is a cop out.
In the end, this debate is not about gay marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, it is about the rights and benefits of EVERY American citizen. Call it what you will, all US citizens will not be equal until each individual is guaranteed the same legal rights under our constitution.