Thursday, October 30, 2008

Proposition 102 would further marginalize gays

(Karen J. Kressley is a retired social-service worker who lives in Green Valley. This is reposted from the Arizona Daily Star.)

From the early 1960s to the mid-80s, my husband and I raised our four children, two boys and two girls, in what I would describe as a heterosexual home environment. Knowing virtually nothing about "other" possibilities allowed us to treat all our kids as "straight," just like ourselv

It wasn't until 1984 that we had a heart-rending awakening. Our youngest, at age 16, made an earnest attempt to end his life. We were lucky; he survived.

This shocking and frightening incident was our discovery of human diversity on a whole new level.

During a counseling session weeks later, our son revealed his long-kept secret. He was gay, not straight.

In days to follow, he would share how as a boy of 5 or 6, he felt "different," but was unable to identify the core of this sensation until he neared puberty.

My mind flashed back to little girl crushes I'd had on boys in the early 1950s. I did not have to keep these feelings a secret.

Now, I realized, our son had been holding his feelings secret for a long time, while trying to pretend to himself and to us that he could be straight.

Our ignorance nearly cost us the life of our child. Regrettably, the message our son received in his "heterosexual home environment" was a distinct "Only Straight People Accepted Here." My husband and I had so much to learn and unlearn.

In our 20-plus years since, we have had our minds challenged and broadened. We have become avid supporters, advocates and educators where our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters are concerned.

In our learning, there is one truth we do not question. It is that our influence as a straight couple cannot change the orientation of our son, nor will it change the orientation of any non-heterosexual person we meet. Likewise, those of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persuasion cannot influence our straight orientation.

From this truth, we have concluded that to whom we are attracted is not a choice, but rather a continuation of our normal development begun at conception.

As unique human beings, then, our personal and very private rights to love another belong to us alone. We, every one of us, should be free to choose our life partners without fear of laws restricting our natural birthrights.

I am appalled by Proposition 102, a second attempt (a similar initiative failed in 2006) to single out our GLBT citizens of Arizona for exemption from living out their dreams.

It is an absolute travesty of justice that any human being should be denied the same rights of equality that I, as a privileged straight woman, receive.

The sin is not in whom one loves. The sin is with those who want their narrowly defined religious beliefs enshrined in the Arizona Constitution.

Proposition 102, if passed, will set a dangerous precedent and will only further serve to marginalize our equally deserving GLBT citizens.

I ask everyone with a conscience to please vote "no" on Prop. 102.

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