I appreciate and highly value the freedoms afforded to me as a citizen of the United States. Free speech, freedom to live and pursue happiness, and being able to vote for our elected leaders and on questions important to the day. Two weeks now the decision will be made as to who will become the President of the United States, serve in our Senate, House of Representatives, and on local issues brought to referendum on the ballot in my home state.
I read a lot on various media — newspapers, blogs, and Facebook. I have learned a lot about how people use electronic media to express their views. But nothing is as direct as being put into the position of having to speak from the heart.
Last night, I attended what was supposed to be a community meeting about a local development issue. While I no longer lead this regional organization, having served as its Chair for six years, I know that my opinion and insights are valued. However, the discussion that was supposed to be about a local in-fill building project got onto a tangent about two questions that will appear as a referendum on our the ballot across our state. One question was about an Act passed by our state legislature that will allow people who are not U.S. citizens, but who graduated from a local high school, parents paid taxes for at least three years, and who attend two years of community college, to get in-state tuition at a state university. I support that Act, while some others do not.
But what really got my goat was a discussion about a question that also will appear on referendum. Our state legislature passed an Act that would allow same-sex couples to marry while protecting religious institutions, as well as purveyors of goods and services, not to participate in any way with a same-sex marriage if they feel that doing so is against their religious tenets.
The nabobs of negativity have stated that we are “redefining marriage.” Bullshit. What the Act is doing is allowing me to formalize my relationship with my partner of almost 20 years. That is, marry the man I have loved, and always will love, forever. The benefits of our getting married will afford us the same benefits as heterosexual couples — for example, if one spouse dies, the other does not have to pay an estate tax on the other’s property. There are many more benefits, too — and what I want is simply to be treated equally under the law as all married couples are treated. It is a civil right, not a religious matter.
Last night, someone who fervently is opposed to same-sex marriage got on a soapbox during the meeting and started spewing hate and lies. He said that by allowing the law to take effect, schools will be forced to teach about homosexuality. Children will suffer because “only a man and a woman can raise a child.” He even quoted an out-of-context verse from the Bible against “a man who lies with a man.” That stuff is false, wrong, and outdated, fed by hypocrites. Yeah, so-called preachers of peace, acceptance, and tolerance foment hate and fear. Again, this is so sad, but evidence again of how people are influenced by propaganda on the airwaves and electronic media.
I was hoping that someone, anyone, would speak up with a different opinion from this nattering negative religious zealot. No one did. Finally, I had it. I raised my hand, got the floor, and made a short, simple statement that came from my heart. I explained how I have struggled so hard to care for the one that I love. He’s been very sick. He needs a lot of help. But then I explained all the mess that we have had to go through so that I can advocate for him legally, because right now in the eyes of the law, we are strangers to one another. That has to change.
I spoke for only two minutes, and at the end, I had tears flowing freely. I sat down, rather dejected and disheartened.
Then two others spoke up. One — a long-term friend — supported me. I would rather expect that. She’s been a good friend and an ally for some 30 years.
But what was most surprising and heartwarming was to have a police officer stand and say, “you know, I am rather conservative and am very engaged in my church. But I really wasn’t aware of the issues that [BHD] raised. He makes good points. I intend to vote in favor of that referendum — yes on Question 6 — because I understand now more than ever how deeply personal and important this matter is.”
Wow… you never know. Thanks, Ofc. [x]. And thank you, neighbors, for your support. It means a lot.
Now, back to the topic — what are we going to do about that proposed building?
Life is short: vote — from the heart.