January 23, 2013
The Honorable Barack H. Obama,
Mr. President on January 21, 2013, you gave an extremely heartening and inspiring inaugural address. Throughout the address you focused on issues that unite us as Americans and reminded us that we are at our best when we treat each other fairly and equally. During your address I was moved when you spoke about how women should get equal pay for equal work. This is the first presidential address I’ve listened to as a parent and as the father of a young girl your words touched me. When you said “our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts” you both acknowledged a societal inequity toward women and challenged us to commit to right this wrong for your daughters and for mine. That line touched me and I am thankful for it but it seemed incomplete because while our earning power is important our treatment as equal citizens, as equal people is even more important.
On January 23, 2013 your outgoing Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, announced that the military will finally allow women to serve in combat roles (even though they have been dying in wars throughout our nation’s history). This opens up the military and the career roles within it to my daughter. I have a hard time fathoming that my little girl, the daughter of two former Peace Corps volunteers, would want to serve in the military but she might I’m glad the formal barriers to whatever path she might want to take within the military are now removed. So progress within the military toward equality is great but it is still incomplete when she might be asked to go to war in without having any representation in Congress to vote for or against a war. As a native Hawaiian your generation was raised by those Hawaiians who were asked to serve in World War II but had no congressional representation to vote for our against the war or for or against military budgets. Statehood was and is good enough for the sons and daughters of Hawaii and I certainly believe it’s good enough for the sons and daughters of the District.
Your administration has done well by getting rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, it’s done well by signing into law the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and it’s done well by appointing two great women to the Supreme Court but there is one glaring exception to your focus on equality: the citizens of the District of Columbia. For my daughter, for my wife, for me, and for our 632,000 neighbors your administration has been silent and you have been silent. Your biggest step toward “equality” for the District after four years has been to change your license plates.
So while I love so many things about your inaugural address it left me wanting and left me once again feeling left out. Mr. President, I’m glad you want all women to be treated equally within the military and within society but what about the hundreds of thousands of women in the District with no vote in either House of Congress. Mr. President, I’m glad you want all women to have equal rights yet you bargained away the reproductive rights of hundreds of thousands of women in the District. Mr. President, you need to start talking the talk and walking the walk as it relates to equality and justice for the citizens of the District of Columbia. If you want to have a fully inclusive agenda promoting equality throughout America you need to start by thinking about the people who live across the street from the White House and who live in the shadows of the US Capitol, for we too need to be included in your agenda for justice and equality in an inclusive democracy.
Mr. President, shouldn’t our daughters be treated equally if they are created equally?
Please stand up for DC Statehood and speak out for it loudly and clearly in your upcoming State of the Union address. Statehood is the only irrevocable way to make District citizens equal to those in the 50 states and we need you to help lead this fight. Your State of the Union Address is a great opportunity to speak up for equality and for the citizens of the District of Columbia and when you do the cheers you’ll hear won’t just be from those in the House Chamber. There will be a loud chorus of cheers in living rooms from Capitol Hill to Deanwood, from Penn Quarter to Brookland, from Congress Heights to Palisades, and from Columbia Heights to Shepherd Park. We’ll be cheering with you, for you, and for ourselves. We want to be an equal partner in this beloved Union called the United States of America.
Brookland Dad, DC
You can encourage the President to stand up for DC Statehood in his upcoming State of the Union by contacting the White House:
Snail Mail: The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500