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.
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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