The Only Gay Freedom Barack Obama Handed Out Today Was on a Medal


It’s no small honor to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom, like the one President Barack Obama gave Harvey Milk today, along with 15 others, including Billie Jean King. The medal recognizes those who make “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” But the medal was delivered by a man who does not believe gay men and women are equal enough to be afford the same marriage rights as straight Americans. The irony, then, is that the gay male recipient of today’s medal is more deserving than the man who bestowed it. Argues former radio host Charles Karel Bouley: “At this point in American’s history, I’m not sure Milk would even accept. I truly am not.”

Said Obama of Milk: “His name was Harvey Milk. And he was here to recruit us, all of us, to join a movement and change a nation. For much of his early life he had silenced himself. In the prime of his life he was silenced by the act of another. But in the brief time in which he spoke and ran and led, his voice stirred the aspirations of millions of people. He would become, after several attempts, one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office. And his message of hope, hope unashamed, hope unafraid, could not ever be silenced. It was Harvey who said it best: You gotta give ’em hope.”

And of King: “Through her example and advocacy, Billie Jean Moffitt King has advanced the struggle for greater gender equality around the world. In an age of male-dominated sports, her pioneering journey took her from Long Beach, Calif., to the lawns of the All England Club and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Her athletic acumen is matched only by her unwavering defense of equal rights. With Billie Jean King pushing us, the road ahead will be smoother for women, the future will be brighter for LGBT Americans, and our nation’s commitment to equality will be stronger for all.”