Within my family unit, my husband and I enjoy and treasure our relationships and time spent with our two children and their life partners. There is no difference to us as we all laugh, love, and cry encountering a typical (some may say not so typical!) family’s issues, concerns, and joys.
As soon as we go beyond our family though, I am suddenly aware that my son and his wife are entitled to the same federal and state rights that my husband and I have always enjoyed. My daughter, however, and her life partner, who happens to be a woman, have none of these same rights as a couple. It’s almost as if they are citizens of a different America!
How is it possible, I ask, that my bright, well-educated, caring and beautiful daughter lives in a country which discriminates against her on a daily basis?
I am for a USA where both my son and daughter have equal rights and protection under the law.
So, on September 29, I lobbied on The Hill (in Washington, DC) for equal rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) community. I was participating in a semi-annual Lobby Day organized by the Human Rights Campaign, a bipartisan group, which works for equal rights for GLBT people.
This day was the result of a long process of learning more about my beliefs and the system which governs us and which, every 2 and 4 years, asks for our input at the ballot box.
Some years ago I discovered the hard truth that a lobbying group aligns itself with those who support their particular issues, rather than considering a broader view of the full-slate of issues a candidate may support. For me, this never seemed the “right” way to select a political candidate to support. In addition to gay rights, for example, I have certain beliefs about fiscal responsibility, personal freedoms, social programs, etc., and I always wanted to pick the person who would best represent my beliefs across the board.
As time has passed, however, I have watched myself migrate from voting for a candidate who represents the broadest spectrum with which I agree to only voting for those candidates who support equal rights for the GLBT community. One reason for this is this one simple truth: This country was founded upon the notion of equal rights, and we all fare better when those rights are protected.
It was an incredible experience to go with other Texans to the offices of our Texas congressmen and senators and tell them my story and ask them to support legislation which promotes equal rights for the gay community.
For those of you with an inkling to share your perspective, I highly recommend this experience. Whether on the state or federal level, you have a standing invitation to make an appointment and sit down with your representative and share your perspective. I lobbied people on both sides of the aisle during my visit and found that they really do listen when regular citizens like you and me show up in person. This is, after all, their job — to represent us!
Will those rights I lobbied for last week come eventually? Without a doubt, I believe, they will!
The question is: how long will a group of Americans be disenfranchised from their civil rights?
I, as a straight mother of a lesbian daughter and straight son, want to keep that time-frame as short as possible so that both of my kids and my grandkids can live in a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
That’s why I’ll vote with candidates who are working to end discrimination against the GLBT community. And that’s why I’ll be headed back to Washington DC to have my voice heard for as long as it takes until we get it right.