Do Ask! Do Tell!
Amsterdam, 14 June 2009. A good, informative article on Love Exiles was published in this weekend’s edition of the Dutch daily newspaper, Trouw. A friend wrote on my Facebook wall: “Nice article in Trouw!! You really know your way into the media with the issue and the Obama quote! Teach us the trick!!”
The answer lies in the preparation. I had written lots of smaller press releases, but finding something that would catch their attention – the Joseph Lown AP article – helped the most. It helped that the journalist, Nicoline Mezger, had done her homework. Besides interviewing Martha and myself, she had read the Love Exiles blog (www.loveexiles.wordpress.com). She knew about an interview on Dutch TV with Bob Bragar, Love Exile and Chair of Democrats Abroad in the Netherlands, in which Bob quotes Obama’s response when Bob told him he was forced into exile when he fell in love with a Dutch man. “That’s not fair, that’s just not fair”, Obama said.
Getting the word out there is the result of all of us being vocal, and following up. And using the media we have to get the message out.
To give readers of this blog more background into media work that Love Exiles have been doing in recent years, we are republishing an article by Bob Bragar on his blog “The Dutch Delegate”. Bob Bragar spoke both with Michelle and Barack Obama in the period leading up to last year’s Presidential election. He kept a blog and here is what he had to say about a delegates meeting with Michelle Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in August last year.
“The big LGBT event today was the luncheon for delegates, hosted by Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Tammy Baldwin and the Human Rights Commission. Le tout LGBT world was there. Close to 1,000 people, I’d guess, for a fancy sit-down lunch at the Sheraton Hotel.
But the big surprise was the visit by Michelle Obama, who was received with a powerful standing ovation.
We were so grateful that Michelle had come. Her visit was a statement that Barack is aware and concerned about our problems, and she made that clear in a thoughtful speech.
This was different than the speech the night before at the Convention, where Michelle focused on family and general values. In this speech of over 20 minutes, Michelle showed the good lawyer she is. She discussed the legal issues that affect the LGBT community, and showed her sincere concern and desire to help.
She pointed out that Barack has:
– voted to overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act which bars the Federal government from acknowledging any same-sex relationship,
– voted against the Federal (anti-)Marriage Amendment to the Constitution
– opposes the don’t ask/don’t tell rule in the military
– opposes discrimination in the workplace
Some of her remarks brought tears to my eyes. I was so very moved to see our possible future first lady standing strong and clear for LGBT rights. Michelle rightly said that, “discrimination has no place in a nation founded on equality” and encouraged us to work for the world “as it should be”. Alluding to the political issues surrounding LGBT rights, she said “We can win if we can move people away from fear and toward hope.” How true.
I was lucky enough to shake her hand as she left the hall. I thanked her for visiting our community, and told her how much it meant to us. I also asked her to think of us Americans who must live abroad because we have a foreign partner we cannot get a US visa for, and she looked me in the eye, and said, “We have to get you back home!”
That ended it for me. My eyes got moist.
Michelle is terrific.