Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let Arizona gays pursue life, liberty and happiness

Op ed appearing in Arizona Republic (one of many in the past few months):

Years before anti-gay marriage initiatives exploded onto the public scene, I had a conversation with a co-worker I knew was a lesbian.

The issue of gay rights came up. I wasn't concerned about people's sexual orientation, but I couldn't understand why gays had to make such a big deal about it. The conversation went something like this.

"Why can't gays just keep their lifestyle to themselves?" I asked. Her answer opened my eyes and heart.

"When you're at work, do you ever talk about your husband and kids?"

I nodded.

"And you have a picture of them on your desk?"

I nodded again.

"I can't do that," she said. "I can't do that. If I were as open about who I am as you are about your life, I'd be snubbed, teased and possibly fired. So I'm forced to pretend.

"People feel compelled to try to set me up with dates I don't want. They joke about gays and wonder why I don't think it's funny. I'm not asking for anything extra. I just want to have the same rights and considerations as everyone else."

Her words made me think about many things I took for granted. I was able to marry at 18 and later have two wonderful daughters. Had I not been able to give birth, I would have adopted.

I was proud of my family and was happy when people asked about them. I could hold hands with my husband while walking down the street. I didn't worry about someone calling me ugly names, or giving me an icy stare. I could be myself without fear of reprisal.

So, when a few years later, my friend, and many other gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people decided to fight for equality, I better understood what they were trying to accomplish.

It's embarrassing to remember how I wanted gays to just keep "it" to themselves. I wasn't a bad person for having these thoughts. I just never thought about it from any other perspective than my own. But from an American viewpoint, my old perspective was wrong.

In a country where the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right, can we really justify an attempt to legalize discrimination? I cannot idly stand by and watch this happen. That is why I will not only be voting no on Proposition 107, I'm writing this letter to ask my fellow Arizonans to join me and reject this hateful, hurtful and un-American proposition.

Let's make Arizona a state that truly reflects the values of our state and country by respecting our Constitution and embracing the final words of the pledge of allegiance to be: "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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AZMarriageAmendment.com said...

Hi Seething Mom,

Thanks for covering this topic. I think there's been a misunderstanding. Proposition 107 does not infringe upon anyone's liberty. With regards to marriage, Arizona treats all people equally, regardless of sexual orientation.

Seething Mom said...

You speak eloquently, but surely you jest! With regards to marriage, the last I heard it is illegal and has always been illegal for gays and lesbians to marry in Arizona, which as a result denies them the basic rights and protections that marriage offers their Arizona heterosexual counterparts. So please please do not insult my intelligence with the statement that Arizona treats all people equally, regardless of sexual orientation. When it comes to marriage, gays and lesbians cannot get married in Arizona. That is not equal treatment no matter how you spin it.

This amendment is nothing more than insurance that gay marriage remains illegal because one can never be too safe (last part said with plenty of sarcasm). But sadly it does not stop there. It also provides a mean spirited excuse to yank away any benefits that unmarried couples – gay or straight - are receiving from any job affiliated with city and state governments.

The fact of the matter is there will be so many more heterosexual couples than gay couples affected. And hundreds of children from these unions will be the biggest and most innocent victims caught in the wide net this mean-spirited and unnecessary Proposition casts. Universities and the city governments that give benefits to domestic partners will feel a dramatic impact from the resulting “brain drain” and the increased difficulty in the recruiting of qualified candidates. They have all expressed their *non*support of this Proposition.

No amount of talking will convince me or anyone else educated on Proposition 107 who the people behind this are targeting. And the attitude I have heard expressed from the pro Prop-107 crowd is always some variation of this: “well they shouldn’t be living together in the first place.” So basically these very real (heterosexual) families affected are just unfortunate collateral damage, but, according to the Pro-107 crowd they are getting what they deserve for “living in sin”.

This proposition boils down to the enshrinement of a certain segment of our society’s moral code into our constitution. That defies what our constitution should be all about. And it certainly sends the message that our constitution is for everyone, except those upon whom we cast our disapproval.

Seething Mom said...

This was lifted from an op-ed in a Wisconsin paper but certainly applies to gays and lesbians here in Arizona. Denying gays and lesbians the right to marry makes the little things that we hets take for granted monumental and expensive tasks for gays and lesbians. If this is treating people equally regardless of sexual orientation (as was claimed by the commenter above), then I’m missing something somewhere:

A few months ago, after helping a friend change a tire, we were putting items back in his trunk when I saw a file of legal papers he kept. I understood instantly the files were there in the case he or his partner were involved in a medical situation on the road which required a hospital or doctor to be aware that this couple could and wanted to make decisions for each other in emergencies. Included in this file I saw were hospital visitation authorizations, living wills, directives to attending physicians, powers of attorney forms for both health care and finance that were notarized and signed by a raft of people. Additionally, there were forms for declaration of domestic partner status; a non-binding legal agreement to support the other documents claiming that the one had the right to assist the other in any situation. All of the forms were in duplicate and reciprocal, and must have cost a fair amount in attorney’s fees.
That is the reality of being gay in America in 2006. To ensure that basic rights and dignities are afforded gay couples, they must carry expensive legal documents with them–and then even some of those documents may not be honored, and they are to expect that. How many straight couples have you talked with that need and require the same such paperwork in the case of an accident? How many expect in advance that their wishes may or may not be honored in a time of crisis?

Read the whole thing, it makes the point well that the wrong sexual orientation is indeed a stumbling block to the equal treatment the commenter above claims everyone gets here in AZ.