The Straight Man’s Vote

Photo by Philippe Leroyer

One decision can change history.

Certain moments make such thorough, such permanent change that later generations can’t imagine what it was like before.

Growing up in a mixed-race school in the 1980s, I didn’t understand what my teachers meant by segregation. My friends and I looked at each other—different drinking fountains? Different schools? We couldn’t even form questions from our confusion.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not fix racism. But it changed the environment where prejudice lives. Once a Grendel, roaming free and preying at will, racism became the Chupacabra. It must hide, it is chased, it is reviled.

Children grow up differently.

Today we have a similar decision to make. Homosexuals and the gender-queer are mistreated in our society. It’s considered okay. People who never say nigger will laugh as they say faggot.

And worse—far worse—are the ones who never say faggot but say, “I don’t have anything against them, just why do they have to be so public?”

Inequality is being legislated, and that is a public issue. It’s hard to imagine any other group being told they can’t marry. What if Muslims or Hispanics were denied this basic right?

Could you ignore that?

I’m addressing the straight people. I’m one myself. And here’s the thing: We’re the ones who need to fight this battle. 

By the numbers, the LGBTQ community will never win a majority vote. Their ability to receive equal rights depends entirely on your, on our, willingness to stand up.

African Americans didn’t pass the Civil Rights Act. Not alone. After so much bravery and passion from black activists, a room full of white congressmen had to cast their votes. 70% decided that they would do what was right.

That’s what I hope you will do.

If you live in one of four states—Maine, Maryland, Minnesota or Washington—you get to vote on a ballot measure about same-sex marriage. This happens November 6. If you don’t vote, you have voted. You have voted for bigotry.

I have many Minnesota readers. In Minnesota, I ask you to support gay rights by voting NO on the Marriage Amendment. Tell your friends to vote no, too. And argue with your bigoted friends, thoughtfully, in front of your undecided friends.

(For info on the other three states, see WA, MD, and ME. To see where your state stands, click here.)

We shouldn’t have to vote on whether someone is allowed equal rights. It should be a given. But when these ballots are counted, one of two things will happen:

If there aren’t enough brave straight people, it will be business-as-usual for a nation ruled by Puritans. That big train called fear, xenophobia and bigotry can just keep steaming forward.


If we all vote and tell our friends to vote, maybe this day will confuse future schoolchildren. Maybe we’ll have something worth remembering.

Please vote in support of queer rights.

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22 thoughts on “The Straight Man’s Vote

  1. Jen says:

    Drew, I agree wholeheartedly, but I would like to clarify one thing – in Minnesota, if you don’t vote on the amendment, your vote will count as a “no”. I would much prefer that than someone voting “yes”. If someone is still wrestling with the decision – JUST LEAVE IT BLANK! I would love it if everyone would take the stance and fill in the “no” circle, but I’d rather they not vote at all if they aren’t attempting to write bigotry into our state’s constitution.


    • I think its still really important that Minnesotans intentionally vote to defeat the amendment. Even if we dont win in Minnesota, history will use the voting stats. The conservative opposition will say “well, pro-queer voters don’t exist because they didn’t turn up at the ballot.” In this case, making our numbers show is just as important as the outcome itself.

      • Jen says:

        I agree completely, David, but I wanted to clarify how the actual voting logistics work on our ballot. (It’s my job – tomorrow I will be at the polls from 6 am to whenever we are done as I am an election judge.)I plan on filling that no circle in fully, in black pen. I only wish it actually were a vote to allow for same-sex marriage, not just to keep our currents laws as they stand.

  2. A. Waite says:

    While I agree with your desire to extend equal rights to all, it seems unfortunate to me that you equate Puritans with bigots – speaking as someone who occasionally holds quasi-puritanical views.

    • I didn’t realize there is still a group that self-identifies as Puritan. (If there is, I likely disagree with just about everything they espouse, but I don’t want to mistreat them.) I’d love to hear more about your views if you feel like sharing, A.

      • A.Waite says:

        I’m only a Puritan in the sense of being somewhat prudish and disapproving of gratification of the senses for its own sake, traits which are often attributed to a cultural inheritance from the Puritans, especially in New Englanders. It just sounded as if you were suggesting that anyone who dislikes promiscuity opposes marriage rights for homosexuals.I apologize though; it was needlessly combative to take offense at a throwaway comment.

        • No apology needed A, and thanks for that.

          I’ve generally seen the term Puritan have a negative connotation. It sounds like your views could also be described as (somewhat) ascetic, but maybe that doesn’t have the right ring to it. In any case, welcome to Rogue Priest!

  3. Drew, Thank you for this. But I would like to remind you that this is not the only rights issue that matters. It is legal in most states to fire someone for their sexual orientation or for being trans*. As much as marriage equality is an important issue, it isn’t the most important issue. The ability to keep a job and not face housing discrimination is. And Republicans are the ones who keep introducing bills across this nation to discriminate against people like me. So thank you for bringing this up. Gender and Sexuality Minorities such as myself can’t do this alone. We need all the help we can get.

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