This past Saturday was Barack Obama’s 51st birthday, but yesterday, Dave Eggers (the founder of McSweeney’s), and Jordan Kurland launched a new campaign to support Obama’s presidential run called “90 Days, 90 Reasons.” The idea is that they’ve asked 90 cultural figures to give one reason why they will vote for Obama in 2012. Their site will have a running list of the 90 reasons, as well as a longer essay from each cultural figure explaining why they chose the reason they did. Look out for future entries from Russell Simmons, Van Jones, Judd Apatow, Elizabeth Gilbert, Win Butler, Michael Chabon, Aisha Tyler, Reza Aslan, John Prendergast, Cheryl Strayed, Carrie Brownstein, Shepard Fairey, Aimee Mann, Daniel Alarcón, and Miguel Arteta. To keep up with the reasons as they’re announced you can follow the campaign on Twitter, @90Days90Reasons, or on Facebook. Check out the first two reasons below.
The first reason comes from Ben Gibbard:
REASON 01: OBAMA IS THE FIRST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE RIGHT OF GAY COUPLES TO MARRYAND ENJOY THE FULL BENEFITS OF MARRAIGE IN THE EYES OF THE LAW.My sister Megan is married to one of the most wonderful women I have ever met. Her name is Amber. They courted for years before tying the knot here in Seattle 3 years ago. They have two dogs named JoJo and Franco. They will undoubtedly grow very old and very wrinkled together.When they are very old and very wrinkled they will tell their grandchildren what life was like at the turn of the century. It will be difficult for these kids to comprehend a time before people could view the Internet on the inside of their eyelids. Or that people once used GAS to power their flying cars. Or how when their Grandmas got married, the Government wouldn’t recognize them as wife and wife. All of this will sound very strange.Their grandkids will be too young for the details on how gay marriage was eventually legalized across the country but this is how it unfolded:In Washington State, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the Legislature and was signed by Governor Christine Gregoire in February 2012. Same-sex marriages were to be performed starting in June 2012 but that was delayed as opponents gathered enough signatures to force a voter referendum on the legislation. This was known as Referendum 74. A number of bigoted organizations tried their best to squash Ref. 74 but the voters of Washington State decided it was time to afford equal rights to all. It passed! Washington became the first state to approve marriage equality by a popular vote after 32 others had tried and failed. The rest of the country saw what Washington had done and decided they wanted to get some of that equality, too. Gay marriage started getting legalized all over the place. It was great. It was the right thing to do.A lot of credit also had to go to our President, Barack Obama. In May of 2012, he went on national TV and expressed his support for gay marriage. It may be hard to believe but at the time, this was quite a controversial position to some people. He said he had “gone through an evolution” on the matter and felt it was time to share this view with the country (Vice President Biden also kind of forced his hand on the timing of this announcement but hey, who cares now?). He was the first U.S. president to voice support for marriage equality. His support continued through his second term and helped us get to where we are today: Gay couples that choose to get married receive the same rights and recognitions as straight ones.I am voting for Barack Obama this fall because I want a president who recognizes that gay or straight, the rights of married couples should be equal. Marriage equality is undoubtedly the most important civil rights issue of our generation. We must elect a leader committed to being on the correct side of history. Please vote for Barack Obama this November.—Benjamin GibbardSeattle, Washington
And the second comes from Roger Ebert:
REASON 02: PRESIDENT OBAMA FACED DOWN THE GOP AND THE HEALTH INDUSTRY TO FINALLY REFORM AMERICAN HEALTHCARE.I had great health for most of my life. Then in my 60s, cancer pulled the rug out from under me. Five surgeries, four rehabilitations, you don’t want to know. I was lucky to have good employment-based insurance. I maxed it out. Medicaid came to the rescue. Many people don’t have any insurance at all, and many companies are laying off insured older workers and hiring younger ones who are not being offered a health plan.One important reason I will be voting for Obama is his health plan. “Obamacare” is a first step along the way to the kind of universal health care provided by all advanced countries, except for ours. In writing about this issue I have heard so many heartbreaking stories of lives lost, families destroyed, treatment deferred until it was too late.What bothers me about Romney is that he denies the success of his own “Romneycare” in Massachusetts. It was his signature program. Now it’s as if he’s never heard of it. We need health care in this country. I suspect many of those opposed to it have never had to go through a health ordeal like mine. They may think they are well off and can handle their own expenses. They have no idea.—ROGER EBERTUrbana, Illinois