I recently had to travel to California. It was a 3 month assignment, and while I was there I did your standard tourist stuff. I went to San Fransico, drove up to Tahoe, played golf at some beautiful courses. I made some great friends who I will miss, and I saw some things that made me realize just how far we have to go here in Texas just to catch up to the rest of the country when it comes to acceptance for Lesbians and Gays.
Here in East Texas, when i go out with my partner, whom I have been with for years, we look like two friends out together for a meal or a movie. We never touch, would never dream of holding hands in public, and are careful of any pet names we might call each other. Not only would it not be “accepted”, but it wouldn’t be safe here.
While I was in California, I was astonished when I went out to eat at local restaurants and saw gay and lesbian couples out on dates, openly affectionate to one another. There was nothing over the top. Just a few hands touching across the table, or sitting on the same side in a booth rather than across from each other. What was even more incredible to me was that NO ONE was staring at them (except me, of course).
The other Lesbians at work couldn’t believe that here in Texas you could still be fired just for being gay. That it wasn’t against the law to discriminate based on sexual preference. They all had one simple comment to make to me…… “MOVE”
I have to admit that the idea of moving away from the harshness of life as a gay person where I live was tempting. But, if all we do is pack up and leave, what will change here? Nothing. We shouldn’t have to move away from our families and friends and our jobs, just to have the same rights as others. I love my partner, as much if not more than any heterosexual person that I know loves their spouse. I want so much to be able to provide for her in the same way that my married friends can do for their families. Someday, I will be able to do that, right here in Texas!
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It goes without saying that I am an advocate for the rights of Gay and Lesbian people. Being a part of a group that is being discriminated against doesn’t leave you much choice. Of course I want the same rights that everyone else walking down the street has. But, I understand the process we have to go through to get there, and we as a community have started trying to run, before we can even crawl.
Instead of focusing on protecting our jobs, protecting our relationships legally, and gaining the same financial benefits for our relationships as others recieve, we focused on the one aspect of our relationships that many people in this country are most afraid of. We let them take this opportunity to put us in their arena, the religious one. They have turned this question of civil rights, into one that appears to be, at first glance, about religious beliefs. The far right is trying to keep the conservative religious groups in this country enraged, saying that we are trying to force them to “accept” that gay relationships have a place in their church at the alter.
These fundamentalist leaders know that if they can keep the focus on religious beliefs, and off the civil rights issues, they can control their congregations vote. We have to take this fight back out of their arena, and make it about gaining our BASIC civil rights. Protecting our jobs, our right to be with each other in the hospital, our right not to pay mor taxes than they do, our right to provide for each other in retirement.
The religious right has so enraged people against us in Texas, that the proposed amendment that will be voted on here in November not only precludes gay marriage, but would prevent ANY CONTRACTS between same sex couples. They’re not just attacking our right to marry, but trying to close any options for civil unions for us in the future. The wording is so harsh in this amendment, that it could undermine even the legal contracts that we use now to protect our partners.
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