For too long the state government's have dictated GLBT rights. Civil Rights should NOT be left in the hands of the state. The time has come for the Federal Government to make marriage equality a reality for ALL citizens of the United States. For too long we have been called second class, deviate citizens. We work, pay the same taxes and obey the same laws as everyone else. Our rights should not be determined by those who use God's name in vein to promote hatred and fear. It is time for the Federal Government to take up the call! President Obama, you've already made so many marks in history... we're asking you to make another... make marriage equality a reality! Not in ten years, NOW!
So that we are not complete strangers, I would like to introduce myself. My name is David Taylor (my name couldn’t be any more common than Joe Smith). I moved to Utah in June of this year from Pennsylvania with my spouse and our adorable three year old daughter. Needless to say being believers in God with no religious affiliation, the move here was quite a culture shock, but we are adjusting quite well and learning to love our new home. One more thing that makes the integration a bit more difficult is the fact that my spouse is a man, and our daughter adopted.
The area in which we lived in Pennsylvania was pretty open-minded. My husband and I never had to hide who we were and were fortunate enough to never have any real instances of hatred towards us or our family. But the climate in Utah is very different. Most (not all) people here are not nearly as receptive to gays, even in the healthcare field where homosexuality is typically responded to with empathy. Medical professionals are, after all, students of science; and science dictates that homosexuality is not a mental illness or choice. But in most of Utah, religion reigns supreme. When first faced with these new challenges, my attitude was “well we need to change that.” I’ve since joined an amazing organization of Gay Fathers who provide support, education, and a safe haven for gay fathers from all walks of life. We’ve also joined a Gay and Lesbian Parenting Group with other families similar to our own. I am extremely proud of these men and women for having the courage to fight for equality and fairness in a state where not much exists, but when I sit back and think about it, I still realize that change in Utah, if it happens at all, will happen at a snail’s pace.
In the recent years, rights for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) individuals have made tremendous strides both at state and federal levels. From the long awaited passing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act (thanks to you), to state laws and brave companies protecting GLBT employees in the work place and offering domestic partner benefits… the repealing of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and allowing GLBT men and women to serve their country openly and with honor… Supreme Court rulings and the backing of you, Mr. President that DOMA is unconstitutional… recent statements from the INS stating they will consider same-sex relationships as marriage in deportation cases; my list could go on for miles and I am proud to have been a citizen and a part of making this change happen! I would also like to commend Maine and my home state of Maryland for stepping in to the light with so many others who approved gay marriage this election cycle!
In Utah and many other conservative states, however, I am afraid any hope of legalizing gay marriage, or even fair and equal protection under the law is a far off and distant dream.
This is the reason for my letter, Mr. President. I for years have been a staunch believer that though the State Government should have its say in many things, Civil Rights should NOT be one of them! It should not be up to the state, or even the people, to decide whether or not a certain group of individuals should be counted as equals or given the same civil liberties as the rest of the citizens do. Throughout history, though the efforts of the people certainly have fueled and ignited the fires of change, it was the Federal Government who had to finally step up and say “this isn’t right… we cannot sit by and idly watch this happen any longer.” It was change on the federal level that set history on its right path.
According to a recent poll by CBS News and the New York times, 62% of Americans feel that homosexuals deserve the right to either legally marry or enter in to some type of government recognized civil union! That is more than HALF of America! That is the MAJORITY! Gallup Polls from 2011 show the same to some lesser extent; but in any polls I’ve researched there is an upward trend… and that trend shows that year by year, more Americans are recognizing that we of the GLBT community deserve the right to marry. We are tired of being treated like second class citizens and demonized by those who use the name of God to promote hatred and rhetoric. Though my husband and I were fortunate enough to have a child, there are millions of children caught up in the foster care system who need good, loving homes; and there are tens of thousands of GLBT families out here all too eager to open their homes and their hearts to these children, but the current laws prevent them from doing so. I work with many of them in the Gay Fathers group. I will never understand how many of these “good Christian” advocates can stand on a podium and profess how horrible it would be for a child to be raised by a GLBT family, yet they allow them to suffer alone in silence in orphanages and sometimes uncaring foster homes when there are so many GLBT families who would give them more love than is imaginable. This all needs to change Mr. President… and the time for change is not in ten years, the time is NOW!
I don’t have to explain to you the vast array of benefits that married heterosexual couples receive that are denied to homosexual couples. My husband’s company is gracious enough to offer domestic partner benefits, but because we are not legally married federal law requires him to pay taxes on my benefits; so our benefits cost us an additional $200 or more a month than a heterosexual married couple! Then there are basic human rights like hospital visitation that should never even be questioned in the first place! And what every long time GLBT couple fears the most… my heart cries in a pain I cannot describe when I hear about GLBT partners who spend their lives together and inevitably one partner dies; and in their greatest moments of grief and sorrow their life is further destroyed by their partners family who swoops in and takes away everything they’ve spent a life together building, all because there is no legal protection. This is not just unfair, it is INHUMANE! We are tired of being treated like lesser Americans because of who we love! I scoff in the face of anyone who claims that homosexuality is a choice! Who on earth would CHOOSE to be treated this way? We DESERVE the same rights as every other American who works hard, pays their taxes and obeys the law! We deserve the right to be married!
I personally do not care whether it is called marriage or something else. To me “marriage” is a church tradition and I could care less what our union is referred to as, though I do not speak for everyone in respects to that opinion. Regardless of whatever it is called, the institution should give homosexual couples ALL rights, privileges, and legal protections that are awarded to married heterosexual couples.
I urge you Mr. President, members of Congress, and the American people to join me and my GLBT brethren in this movement. The states should not delegate which Americans it chooses to give civil rights to and treat by the same token. It is time for the Federal Government to step in and make every one… every American… EQUAL. The people are ready… the moment is upon us… and it’s time for real change to happen… NOW!
I would be happy to meet with you, speak with you… I’ll even give you an open invitation to dinner if you wish to sit down with me and my family to discuss this matter. We are far more normal and boring than people fear we are! Maybe if more people realized that they wouldn’t fear us so much. But please, Mr. President, take my words and the many signatures and notes attached to heart. We no longer deserve to hide in the shadows and be treated as second rate human beings. My love for my husband of fourteen years and our beautiful daughter is no different than your love for your wife and children. It’s time the federal government recognizes it as so and enforces it by law.
Many thanks in advance for your time and all that you have done for the GLBT community so far. I look forward to the change I know you can help create.
David M. Taylor