Dear President Obama,

I was honored to vote for you from abroad (Guatemala) last November
and have watched with admiration as you have begun tackling the
countless challenges America faces today. Your calls for "national
service" whether domestically or abroad, inclusion of "non-believers"
and acceptance "homosexuals" in your rhetoric resonates deeply with me
as a gay, atheist, Peace Corps volunteer currently serving in Central

I write today in total confidence that you have the "steady hand" of
stewardship to get America back on track with transparent and
economically sound terms. But there is so much yet to do.

With every passing day, I continue to feel like a second-class citizen
because of one identity characteristics listed above. I am a gay
American, Mr. President. You promised to repeal DOMA (the defense of
marriage act) and "don't ask, don't tell," and to support equal
protection statues under federal law for gays and lesbians across this
country during your campaign. I have yet to see these statements
realized and while I understand that "these things take time," but the
time has come to make history.

You Mr. president should understand as a black man that no American
deserves to feel like a second class citizen for something that they
cannot change and should understand and that the power of societal
inclusion can only go so far without federal support. As I would argue
that your awesome rise to become my president exists today because
of federal civil rights laws protecting you as a African-American from
unjust and undeserved discrimination and hate crimes I demand that you
now make such a dream possible for any gay or lesbian child who could
someday be my president as well.

President Obama, I choose to love instead of hate and would not snap
my fingers to "become straight" even if I could. Why? Because I am
proud of who I am. I am proud to serve my country. I am proud to
support you. I am proud that I have the power to love and be loved in
return. In this world filled with so much wrong and hate I would
expect this worlds leading democracy to be a beacon of love in every
way possible. Viewing non-straight people as equals seems like such an
easy way to express said love.

So now is your turn, Mr. President. Use your bully pulpit and
political capital to keep strong on your promise to provide equal
rights to all Americans: gay or straight, black or white, man or

I support you and have secular faith in your power to make me feel
like a 1st class citizen in this free country we call the United
States of America.

Grant Martin Picarillo
February, 2009