Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Marriage Equality in IL

Today, the IL legislature takes up debate on marriage equality in my home state.  I'm sharing this with my local reps and urge you all to share your thoughts with them, as well.

Dear Rep. _______:

I'm a lifelong IL resident and have spent nearly all of that life in So. IL.  I graduated from ____ in 1986, ___ in 1991, and am currently employed as a police officer in ____.

Until the age of 18, I was as dedicated a homophobe as ever existed.  I was a jock (among other things) and raised in church, so I always knew how gay people were to be treated, even though I didn't personally know anyone who was openly gay.  While I never actually engaged in any direct bullying, myself, I certainly condoned keeping gay people in their rightful place: in hiding.  Gay people could live as they saw fit, as long as they kept that to themselves.

I've since learned how shameful, un-Christian, and un-American it is to oppress people for being nothing more than gay.  When I went to college, I actually met gay people, quickly realizing in-full their agenda: to live free, open lives while bothering no one, expecting the same treatment from their fellows in return. Within weeks of arriving on ... campus, everything I'd been taught and everything I thought about homosexuality was laid bare as naked bigotry and fear, so I returned to the words of Christ regarding homosexuality...and found He said nothing on the subject. In fact, I discovered “Love thy neighbor as thyself” ended with a period, not an asterisk. Many of my college friends happened to be gay and I learned a great many lessons, including not one of them CHOSE to be gay any more than I CHOSE to be straight and each had an extraordinarily difficult struggle when they realized they were indeed born gay. Interestingly, none of them tired to “recruit” me into the "gay lifestyle," either.

I happen to be straight, but I still know to the core of my being that no American should be treated as a second-class citizen. The 1st Amendment clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” Many churches and denominations fully recognize gay marriage as what it is: marriage. Therefore, the government has no right to tell two consenting adults what kind of social contract they can arrange for themselves, nor can it tell a church what it may or may not recognize as a holy union, so long as no one else's fundamental rights are at risk. No one's rights are violated by two gay people making a public commitment to grow old together.

I consider the last 26 years of my life to be penance for the first 18.  It is absolutely wrong to allow this inequality to continue, so I urge you to vote in favor of marriage equality so that our fellow Illinoisans may pursue their happiness without interference from their government.

Thank you for your consideration...and go 'Cats.