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That's My Issue: Gay Rights

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gay Marriage (Getty Images)

That’s My Issue is WNYC’s election-year project to gather stories of how your life experience has shaped your politics. Share your story and create your custom badge, read all the stories in the archive, record an audio story directly from your computer, and see much more about the project at the That’s My Issue homepage.

On February 27th, 2011 Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt died in Afghanistan. On February 28th, 2011 gay rights became my issue. Andrew was among the first known gay soldiers killed after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Had he a partner, he would have received none of the government issued $100,000, the paltry price tag they put on Andrew’s life.

My sister is gay and she came out well over 20 years ago in a small rural town in Iowa to little fanfare or drama. My parents accepted her and loved her and none of this really struck me until after Andrew’s death because this is when Minnesota decided to put an amendment on their November ballot seeking to define marriage as something that happens only between a man and a woman.

I felt horrified that someone who gave their life for our country would not being able to enjoy basic civil rights and I went to work with his parents to begin talking about this in our state. We want to make people understand that if we pass this amendment, we are denying people we love a basic freedom many of us take for granted, the freedom to marry.

I, myself, took for granted this basic acceptance until I started to tell the story of my sister and our family. Heart wrenching tales of suicide, depression, complete exclusion from families because of being gay were shocking to me and became the background noise that I could not tune out.

And so I am not. Instead, I am using these stories as my motivation to continue this fight to honor those no longer with us and to ensure those who live in Minnesota have a fighting chance for equality. I will re-tell my story as often as I need to in order to show people that it doesn’t have to be this way.

I am telling people that if we Vote NO to this amendment, we are saying yes to gay people and we are saying yes to being compassionate human beings. 31 states have failed to block such an amendment. In Minnesota, I believe we can make history.

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Comments [2]

Ian from Rochester

Women deserve equal rights, Gays and Lesbians deserve equal rights, even intolerant religious bigots deserve equal rights, although they probably already are enjoying them and just don't want anybody ELSE to. Remember America was built on the premise that people can decide what they want for themselves as long as it doesn't infringe or hurt anyone else. Get over the hegemony and the rhetoric. People, in their hearts, know what higher thinking is, they just have to use it.

Aug. 16 2012 01:21 AM
Muriel from CT

I will never vote for anyone who threatens or does not support my rights as a person, female that I am. In the early 50s, I could not get any family planning information. If a physician had tried to dispense info or (God forbid) equipment, that physician was subject to being sent to prison. I could not ever have been in the Olympics, we had no girl's phys ed program in school. In the 60s I could not purchase a car without a male signature on the form, I could not get an education loan for the same reason and in the 70s when I attempted to purchase a condo I could not because again there was no male signature on the form. Any indication that any candidate would curtail or eliminate such as Planned Parenthood or any female centered health coverage, or loan or banking or available housing, etc. would never get my vote and I would include not voting for any candidate from that same political party.

Aug. 15 2012 11:36 AM

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