Yesterday, I received a copy of an opinion piece he recently authored on Amendment One. I hope you will read it:
Why I oppose Amendment One
by Seth Byron Keel
This year is the first year of my life that I have not lived in any denial of my sexual orientation, nor have I attempted to hide it as a part of who I am. I was sitting in the General Assembly when this Amendment was debated and eventually passed to be put on the ballot before us on May 8. I remember feeling disrespected and degraded. My representatives stood on the floor of the House and argued that I am less than them because of my sexual orientation; they argued that I do not deserve the same rights that our government has granted them. Believe me, this was not a choice that I made – I would remember waking up one day and thinking, “I’m gonna be gay.” I spent years learning to accept myself as I am, as I believe I was made to be. I have been blessed with a loving and supportive family, group of friends, and church – all of whom accept me just as I am.
I had a long battle for self-acceptance. I suffered through depression, anxiety, and OCD partly related to my battle with accepting the fact that I am gay. And, I know that there are young people in this state facing similar battles about who they are and what it will mean in their life to be gay. Don’t allow our state to tell them that they are less than any more than it already does. Amendment One would send a message to gay youth that they are not deserving of the same rights that are granted to straight people in this state and nation. I am a human being and this state cannot steal my dignity. And as a human being, I know that I am deserving of the same rights as other human beings. Don’t let our state stand for hate!
Despite how far we have come, I still find myself fighting for acceptance. We live in a society that deems homosexuality as “less than.” We live in a nation that too often accepts hate crimes toward homosexual individuals. We live in a state that does not grant homosexuals the right to marry the man or woman that they love. We live in a world where young people who are homosexual find suicide to be the only escape from daily torment and bullying. We live in a world where it is a crime simply to be gay in some countries. And in extreme situations, countries are executing citizens for being homosexual. Being gay in North Carolina, this country, and this world is not always easy. Sometimes we tend to think only of the bad things happening, but if you open your eyes and look around you see people spreading love and igniting hope. The fight against Amendment One has brought so many unique people together; people who began sharing stories, expressing how they feel, and speaking out against something that is just plain wrong.
There is nothing positive about Amendment One. Gay marriage is already illegal in the state of North Carolina. Amendment One does far more than write discrimination in to the state’s constitution; it will also:
- Threaten to take away health care coverage of children with unmarried parents (gay or straight)
- Not allow North Carolina to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships (gay or straight), threatening many legal protections for these couples
- Make domestic violence protections only apply to married couples
- Threaten unmarried seniors’ pensions, health care, and social security
Aside from standing for the rights of each of these groups, each and every one of you that has the privilege of voting (sadly, I do not) has a chance to send a message of hope to gay and lesbian youth throughout this state and this nation. Each and every one of you has a chance to stand for love over hate. Each and every one of you has a chance to take a stand for justice! I ask that you go out and VOTE AGAINST this dreadful Amendment. And after you have cast your ballot, call ten friends and tell them to do the same. We can defeat this Amendment!
We have seen the facts, we have talked the talk, and it is now time to walk the walk. Get out there and VOTE AGAINST!