Dear Opponents of Equality,
You can feel it approaching, can’t you? Victory for those of us who seek equality under the law is looming on the horizon. Our shared concepts of marriage, love, sexuality and family are changing.
We get that you might be worried or afraid. Change is difficult; especially if you’ve had things go your way for, well, most of history.
What you’ve failed to grasp is that the right to define those terms is not YOURS alone. All of us in a free society can contribute to the understanding, the definition, and the reality of what makes a family and what defines a marriage.
We can, and have the right to, make those life decisions for ourselves.
All over the country, including my home state of Tennessee, federal judges are ruling that our Constitution affords equal status and that there exists no reasonable justification for denying us the ability to control our own lives.
As with most social change, progress ebbs and flows, battles are won in one jurisdiction and then lost in another. Rulings are made, appeals are filed, and equality is deferred for another day.
We win a victory in one state, only to see another state push for stricter, harsher rules. We are not new to this game. But we will win it this time.
We stand on the shoulders of LGBT giants who fought for equality and died never seeing their dreams become reality. We fight for them.
We also fight for those who are struggling now: kids who get kicked out when they come out; young people attempting suicide because their church, family or friends cannot accept a queer kid; LGBT seniors hiding their true selves because caretakers preach intolerance.
You were right. We do have an agenda. We want to be treated with the dignity and respect due to every human being. We demand the freedom to create our own families as WE see fit. We will love whom we love and not be afraid of the consequences nor be ashamed of who we are.
We expect that all LGBT people can live in peace and safety wherever they choose to live. None of that is in conflict with the values we say we believe in as a country.
The more you work to stop our progress, the more determined and resolved we are. Because, you see, this is not about ideology.
It’s not about religious debate or hypotheticals. This is about protecting our families. This is about survival. We will no longer tolerate the closet. We will not accept one more casualty. We will not be satisfied with partial equality.
LGBT people are marrying in the South, the last stronghold of religious exclusion and extremism. More states will follow.
The advance of history, the Constitution, and even your own kids are on our side.
You have two options: concede defeat with honor and let’s all live in peace, or continue to fight the inevitable and be forever on the wrong side of history. The choice is yours.
Will Batts is the Executive Director of the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center.