Dear Barry Obamz,
May I call you Barry? Wonkette started it. When I first laid eyes on your ears and heard your comments about the price of arugula in 2008, I knew that you were going to be my POTUS. As a fellow liberal elitist, you made sense. You spoke my language. And FLOTUS… wowee. She, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been in my BFF fantasies more times than I care to admit. In them, we all have hilarious, intellectual conversations while drinking rosé on a yacht in the Mediterranean. We end up pulling thousands of refugees aboard and granting them asylum.
I voted for your four times. Primary. General election. Primary. General election. It wasn’t always a smooth love affair. There were the ACA negotiations, which gave me serious pause. That process was a disaster and the Republican propaganda machine used it to spin congressional Democrats into oblivion.
There was the revelation of the continued mass civilian spying program, the Syria cluster-fuck, and the unmanned drone strikes all over Af-Pak and the Middle East. These caused us to argue. Disagree. Accuse each other of cheating. Flirting with other candidates. The are unforgivable circumstances in most cases. I would have walked out on any other POTUS.
You gave me my family. You normalized gay. Just like an unlikely white male president helped usher in civil rights for black Americans, an unlikely straight man helped the L. The G. The B. The T. The Q. The I. All of the letters. You signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law in October 2009. You ensured the ACA provided that insurance companies couldn’t refuse someone for being LGBTQI. You supported the ban on ineffective and harmful conversion therapy. Almost every hospital across the country allows for visitation rights by LGBT spouses. You repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And finally you refused to defend DOMA. The Defense of Marriage Act. I’m not sure if you know what this meant to my family, but it gave us HOPE. You know, your political catch-phrase thing. That “hopey changey” shit that the Alaska-Wolf-Shootin’ lady poo-pooed.
Can we back up a bit, Barry? To a point in time when my then girlfriend, now wife, and I waved to you, Sen. Barry, in a crosswalk at Massachusetts Ave. and 6th St. NE? We were driving our friend’s car, stopped at a stop sign and you walked across the street. We waved and smiled. You returned the favor with a big grin.
N and I were both closeted to many family members and friends at that point. We moved overseas as “friends” to the uninitiated. Domestic partners to my progressive company. And in love with each other (sorry Barry, I love her in a different way). As the primary season ramped up, we announced our love for you, Barry. I didn’t know that you would champion LGBT rights, but I suppose that’s proof that our relationship was built on trust. As any solid relationship is.
You were elected. I will never forget that day in 2008. My swing-state vote counted. I was angry that I was on a work trip while N and our friends were watching the returns in an American bar (by which I provided this information to Wonkette, and they actually published it!). I sat with an American Peace Corps volunteer at Krua Canadian in Mae Sot, for about 2 hours, before I rode my bike to the office. I was completely elated. Our Burmese friends weren’t quite as excited since W was very popular in eastern Burma (now called Myanmar), but this is MY love letter to YOU. Not their love letter to W.
We celebrated your inauguration with expats and Thais from all over the world at a bar in Bangkok, courtesy of Democrats Abroad. It was so packed that the bartenders left from being overwhelmed. N brought people beer from 7-11. Sandee, Gerrard, Christine, Mack, Christopher, Raj, Rowan, Rodney, Shawn and many others were there to celebrate your inauguration.
Fast forward past some of the painful aforementioned instances to the part where my wife and I decided to have a quick wedding in DC before it became illegal, just like Prop 8 overturned gay marriage in California. We had a classy elopement. Westboro Baptist Church had their tacky little “God Hates Fags” signs at our wedding. We didn’t care. We got married in hopes that it would be grandfathered down forever, regardless of what Congress did, given that we didn’t expect DOMA to be overturned. But you kept dropping those discriminatory laws like dominoes. Making little, meaningful cracks in the oppressive system.
We moved back overseas and felt the forceful shove of biology kicking in: it was time to have a baby. Said baby was had. Prior to having said baby, we worried about the legal arrangements. Immediately after giving birth in Thailand, which does not recognize same-sex marriage, the hospital administrator told us that I was a single mom. Full stop. We went through the process to get our son’s Foreign Report of Birth Abroad (a.k.a. his American birth certificate) and schemed a way to get N’s name on F’s report of birth abroad. We used the Windsor argument. The U.S. Embassy staff were very sympathetic and sent it all the way up the chain, since it was the first issue of its kind since Windsor was argued but before it was decided. I’m guessing that HRC may have been briefed on it in a sentence. At the end of a day. Or at least that’s a fantasy that I’m clinging to. Department of State in Washington decided that it would create an international incident since Thailand didn’t recognize gay marriage, adoption, etc. Alas, my name was the only one that appeared on F’s birth certificate. They assured us that once we moved back to the U.S., State would reissue the foreign report of birth abroad with both names. And they did. Without hesitation or issue. N is officially F’s parent according to federal record. Thanks, Obama.
We weren’t in the clear until the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling came on June of 2015. Until then, it was stressful to visit the states of my family: Arizona and North Carolina. If there was an accident or hospitalization incident in those two states, N would be barred from visiting me or F and/or making decisions on our behalf. We left the U.S. before Obergefell v. Hodges was decided.
Don’t worry, Barry, it wasn’t you. It was me.
On one income, we couldn’t afford to send our kid to preschool in the U.S., but we, the ever-reviewing-the-valid-studies elitist parents, were set on sending our child to preschool given the evidence based research. So we moved to France. As one does. And we admired and swooned over you from afar.
When the decision was handed down, we cried. We celebrated. We said “WE LOVE YOU, BARRY!”
As the 2015 primary season went into full swing, I had forgotten about all of the bad. I could only remember the good. The empathy you showed during the aftermath of the Sandyhook, Charleston and PULSE Nightclub shootings. Your bromance with Biden. Your amazing family (I can’t believe I forgot to mention that time that N and I saw Sasha and Malia buying dog food for Bo at the PetSmart in Arlington in late 2009!). Your commitment to climate change issues and the environment. Prison and criminal justice reform. Statesmanship.
Barry, you are methodical. You are thoughtful. In most instances, but not all, you use evidence and research to drive your policy making. I will still fight you about drone strikes, Syria, and mass spying. Like a throw-IKEA-plates-towards-your-head style of fight.
But I still love you. You are the reason that my family is, legally, like any other family. You normalized us. You are the reason that I give zero fucks what people think of two women with a son.
I have wept over the loss of relationship as it currently stands. But I look forward to new ways of further growing my activist side with you as the Cheetoh-in-Chief takes the reigns. Perhaps we can take long walks down the halls of power together to advocate for criminal justice reform and climate change mitigation. You can take me back to your place to strategize over your post-presidential strategic plan for national community organizing. We can giggle and laugh into the wee hours of the morning about the fact that you gave Trump a fake nuclear football. And I can buy you proper, non-dad jeans.
I love you, Barry Obamz.