Friday, October 23, 2009

You may say that I'm a dreamer....

This might be the hardest post I've written so far. There's so much jumbled up inside my head and I'm sitting here trying to un-jumble it. Shouldn't it be easy to write about a topic that evokes such raw emotion and unfailing passion? Apparently not. I beg you to be patient with me and read all the way to the end. I'm trying my hardest to make some sense and change some minds....one at a time.

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I opened my Facebook today to find that a former co-worker posted this: "Matthew Sheppard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act- passed the Senate and is on its way to Obama's desk." He then posted the link to the following website: http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer

While you're on that site, please scroll down to the title "Judy Shepard on the Ellen DeGeneres show!" If you click on the photo just under that title, you can watch the interview.

A search on Wikipedia uncovered this information, which is a comprehensive summary of Matthew's story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Shepard

I encourage you to learn about Matthew Shepard's life and death. You will need a box of tissues nearby as you read about his brutal murder. Is it painful to read? Without a doubt. But I firmly believe that knowledge is power... The lessons we can learn from this are too powerful to not share.

Thank you, Rob, for posting this today. I sincerely hope our President does the right thing here.

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If, for some reason, you are unable to get to the website and are unfamiliar with Matthew's story, I'll summarize for you. On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was led to a remote area near Laramie, Wyoming. He was tied to a split-rail fence. His 2 attackers beat him and left him to die in the cold. Nearly 18 hours later, a cyclist discovered him. Matthew died in a hospital on October 12th.

He was beaten because he was gay.

His attackers, so filled with homophobic hate, decided Matthew should die. He didn't deserve to be on this Earth any longer. He was too vile, repulsive, and immoral to live.

Because he was gay.

Let's let that sink in for a moment. Matthew's only "fault" is that he was gay.

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I'm not generally a political person. Watching CNN makes my head spin. The difference between a Republican and a Democrat? I don't have a clue. Quite frankly, I don't care. Do I have some great stake in the person who occupies the Oval Office? Nope. I'm pretty sure it doesn't make any difference. I suppose if I were forced to decide, I'd label myself a Liberal. My political leanings can be boiled down to this...there are a handful of issues that I care very deeply about....I fully support a woman's right to choose an abortion. I encourage the legalization of marijuana. I don't see a problem with legalizing prostitution. And I adamantly support, with all of my heart and soul, the marriage rights of homosexuals.

Let me rephrase that.

Deep down in my soul, I believe that it is okay for a consenting adult to marry another consenting adult...whether it be a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. As long as they are both over the age of 18 and not already married to someone else.

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So, you're thinking, how exactly do these two issues relate to each other?

By denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, we are implying that there's something wrong with them. Something about them is defective. They are less-than. We are perpetuating the myth that they are ill or immoral or perverted.

They're not any of those things. They are human beings who have the same wishes and dreams that you and I have. They, too, dream of falling in love, marrying, and having children. They have dreams of white picket fences and big backyards and growing old together.

They are human beings.

That is the point I'm trying to make. Just because a man is born gay doesn't mean he deserves to be tied to a fence and beaten until his bloody face is barely recognizable. Just because a man is born gay doesn't mean he deserves to die.

He deserves to find a job that makes him happy.

He deserves to have friends who make him laugh.

He deserves to go on as many dates as it takes to find his Mr. Right.

He deserves to fall in love....head over heels, can't-imagine-my-life-without-you, "For better or for worse, til death do us part" kind of love.

He deserves to have his dream wedding....be it a budget-busting black-tie affair or a quiet backyard ceremony.

He deserves to adopt a couple of kids, build them a swingset, and feed them juice boxes and animal crackers.

* * * * * *

By legalizing gay marriage, we are creating a new reality for our society. We are taking a stand against the continued rejection, hysteria, and hand-wringing. We are finally living up to Thomas Jefferson's vision that "all men are created equal."

More importantly, by legalizing gay marriage, we are enabling the following generations to live in a better environment...one that accepts them just as they are. I am fighting this battle so my children won't have to. I am taking this stand so my kids won't have to attend a funeral like Matthew Shepard's. I want my children and your children to grow up being comfortable in their own skin....not being ostracized and tortured based solely on who they love.

* * * * * * *

And my one final thought before I sign off....

Stop for a moment and imagine something.

Imagine your son, your first baby boy, being dragged to a field and tied to a fence.

Imagine him being tortured and beaten. He's begging for his life.

Imagine your boy being left for 18 hours in the October chill.

Imagine opening your front door and seeing the police there.

Imagine holding your baby boy's hand while his beaten body gives up the fight. You're begging him to hold on..."please don't leave us."

Imagine picking out his casket and watching that casket being lowered into the ground.

Imagine never seeing your sweet boy again.

And you tell me.....what's the right thing to do?

6 comments:

  1. Beth, my co-worker and Facebook friend, read the post and wrote this response on FB:

    "Wow. Just wow. Amazingly well put Chris. I had seen Matthew's mom on tv a couple of years ago and thought the same thing. He is her baby. That could be anybody's baby. Prejudice stems from ignorance and fear. If nothing else, if we can't be accepting of another differences, and we all are clearly different, at least respect them. Great job shining a light on this subject."

    Thanks, Beth.

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  2. Another FB friend, Jenn, posted this:

    "awesome. i agree with every word of it. how come everyone doesn't think like we do?? the world would be a much better place...."

    Well said, Jenn.

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  3. Chilling, heartbreaking, and true.

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  4. Nick re-posted this link on his FB page. My sister wrote this in response:

    "The Matthew Shepard story was on Lifetime one day. I only caught the end of it but it was heart wrenching. I have since tried watching for it again but it hasn't been on.

    Live and Let Live...that's all I'm going to say."

    For now, that's good enough for me, Sis. Live and Let Live are words we could all stand to live by.

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  5. I believe the only thing that really matters is that as human beings we have the ability to be kind, caring, compassionate, loving, and respectful of others and their choices. It is not our right to judge others. We will all stand before God someday and be judged by him alone and i feel that if they have been a good person and lived a good life and loved to the best of their ability God will welcome them home.

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  6. I hate to break up the theme of the comments, but I just have to state my opinion. I definitely agree with the sentiment on the Matthew Shepard story - terrible tragedy, and the people who did it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    However, that said, I don't like hate crime legislation. Why? Because it is prosecuting thought, and it's descriminatory. It doesn't matter why someone kills someone else, someone else is just as dead. Also, in Wyoming, I believe they have the death penalty, which those perpetrators should get (and would, I think, for 1st degree murder). Why then, is hate crime legislation needed in this case? If you can already give them the death penalty without it, what more can you do to them?

    I think this is just another case of politicians using an emotional case to grab power, and that's why I don't like it.

    Again, this has nothing to do with my feelings about the case - I believe that the people who killed Matthew Shepard should be prosecuted, convicted, and executed, but I'd rather not see the prosecution be for a Federal hate crime.

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