Fairness for some, it’s a start

I remember sitting in a school board study session. The superintendent received a phone call during the meeting. It was security. A Graham Kapowsin student had committed suicide. Bullying was immediately suspected. Later as more details came out, it was alleged the student also was gay.
I had run for legislative office several times and had always hedged on the issues related to civil rights for LGBT people. My district was conservative, the issue wouldn’t pass a litmus test here. I changed that day. At the next board meeting, I spoke out in support of LGBT students and faculty and proposed the district get educational packets from an organization called GLSEN, Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. Their materials help educators create an environment where student of all sexual identities can feel comfortable and respected. And to make a point, I said point blank, I don’t want to have any more dead teenagers.
At that time, I started really listening to the things my LGBT friends were telling me about the discriminations built into the law. The right of visitation with a critically ill partner, the right to adopt, the right to inherit without taxation, the right to apply for citizenship when married to a US citizen, but most of all, the right to be in a loving monogamous relationship without bitter repercussions.
I had been working in King County for over 5 years. Several of my co-workers were gay. They were incredibly amazing and talented people. One was Canadian and had married his partner in Canada. They adopted two disabled children to raise. Another was almost as flamboyant as he could be, but he was sure fun to be around. He always put everyone in a better mood.
Thinking back to my youth, I remember kids that didn’t quite fit in. Michael recently had the opportunity to marry in a church. He was always very committed to his Christian Faith; he was bullied about it as a kid. I believe he was heartbroken or at least very conflicted when he grew up and realized he was gay. He had always wanted to be a pastor and his realization dashed his dream. He had a long term committed relationship with his partner. The passage of Referendum 74 brought his dreams back. It was a delightful wedding to witness.
Then there was Richard and Tom. We were in school plays together. I don’t think either lived to be 30. They contracted HIV and died of AIDS. Our drama group reassembled and held a party to say goodbye to Richard. Some were afraid to give him a hug. I’m glad I hugged him; he was always so sweet.
So of course, I am happy today that the Supreme Court has given Federal recognition to the LGBT couples who have married in states that recognize their union. Banking, social security benefits, military survivor benefits, there are so many special recognitions for married couples they will now enjoy. For the other states, it is highly understandable that for many it will take a bit more time. It is painfully sad that you can search the Internet and see so many stories on “gay boy tied up and beaten.” I cannot fathom what it is inside people to make them think this is okay. Then again, it wasn’t okay because of skin color or religion either. Can we grow out of our barbarism? I think we can, at least through generations raised with better awareness and understanding.
I think the Supreme Court for recognizing the states that are stepping up. I urge the folks who are delighted about this, not to reverse discriminate against those on the court who were raised under unprogressive ideals. They exist all around America and the world. We have to show them we have a better way, even toward them. In the end, what we are really talking about is kindness to others, even those with whom we disagree. It isn’t always easy, but it is always best.
This weekend there will be especially happy Pride parades, …make us proud.

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