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Why one impressive young man opposes the amendment

Seth Keel is an impressive young man in Raleigh who’s become quite a successful advocate for progressive change at a tender age. You can vist his Facebook page here and read his tweets here.  

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!

 

3 Comments

  1. Jack

    May 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you Seth.

    Years ago a friend confided in me that she is gay. At that point I had to decide whether I was going to continue to call her friend. By maintaining a friendship with her I would be going against all that I had been taught about people who are gay from family, the church and from hate language.

    I decided that maintaining a friendship with her was more important than all the hate and fear I had learned.

    She trusted me enough to confide in me and that alone meant a great deal to me. The least I could was take that trust and allow it to guide me through all the bias and fear and misconceptions about people who are gay and learn to embrace others who have never harmed me in any way.

    The implementation of Amendment One, if passed, will be the state’s contract with its citizens that people who are gay are fair game and any discrimination directed toward them will be have no significant consequences.

  2. J Wyatt

    May 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    If gay marriage should be allowed, then whats the moral issue with plural marriage? Its very little difference if you ask me. Both are taboo, both are considered ‘wrong’ by the majority of our republic.

    But thats the rub, isn’t it. This is a replublic, and not a democracy. We are governed by those we choose to govern us. We do not follow fickle mob rule, or populist claptrap. We follow the measured pace of progress.

    Nobody ever tries to understand the minds of straight men who hate gay men because gay men remind them of the sick ‘uncle’ or twisted authority figure that molested them. The damage to the male psyche when they have been raped, brutalized, by other men, (who may or may not be gay), can have all sorts of horrible effects on the mind. Those men who are molested, grow up with an intense hatred of men who remind them of being molested. ‘Am I gay’, is a question a little boy asks after being molested by a man. Some of them do, at least. Extrapolation from this point explains alot of the behavior of society’s young males towards those they perceive as gay. But nobody ever tries to understand why young men have anger towards gay males. All people want to do is STAMP it out, rather than understand where the anger, and pain come from.

    Why do people expect to get more benefit of the doubt than anyone else?

    Some people are angry because progress isn’t fast enough. Lets face reality. If the minority of people force their version of progress (through shaming and other ignorant, methods), then they are no different than those people they despise. No positive outcome results from negative behavior.

    It is true that there are luddites, holdouts, people who don’t want progress. For example, the Democratic party in Congress voted 80% against civil rights between 1933 and 1960. They finally changed. What, don’t believe me? Go read the congressional record. Other holdouts, like every Governor who fought desegregation? They were Democrats too, by the way. They eventually died out, and finally went away, no more evil democrats!! they all magically vanished, almost overnight.

    This country is moving towards the kind of freedoms and justice the gay community seeks. There is a BUT, here. The country is bending to the understanding that gay people have the same freedoms as everbody else, BUT, it cannot forced, it cannot be shamed. People open their eyes over time. We are a people of tradition and do not lightly throw it away, and yet we progress. If you, dear reader, cannot give empathy to both sides of the story, then where is the justice? Don’t we all deserve justice?

    This reminds me of people who want to take away guns. They lack the ability to give a fair and just consideration to both sides of the story. On one hand, the bill of rights grants us the ability to have guns, on the other, is the side who wants to overturn the very document that lays out ALL of our freedoms, just to remove the one freedom they don’t like. If they think they can arbitrarily take away ONE of our rights, whats to say that they won’t try to take away others?

    All people deserve justice under the constitution, some of us just don’t believe in it. I am an constitutionalist American, a humanist, a darwinist libertarian conservative who believes that homosexuals deserve every other right that all other Americans deserve. I just don’t think its appropriate to flip a switch and magically expect the world to be ok with gay marriage.

    For one thing, unless gay people adopt children or somehow bring one into being, I don’t think that they deserve the same tax status as those of us who can breed more little taxpayers. This is why I have fought gay marriage in the past. I have no problem with two gay people getting married, sharing insurance, legal union, whatever. What I have a problem with is that under typical circumstances, homosexuals do not have the ability to make more little taxpayers. Therefore they don’t deserve the tax break given to married couples (who can create children).

    These rights need to be recognized, NOT granted. Being born on this planet is enough right, as far as I am concerned. BUT, don’t expect it to happen overnight. Ignoring the feelings and beliefs of hundreds of millions of people is not an attractive quality. Do you want your feelings to be heard? Then listen to those of who you disagree. Otherwise, don’t bother talking. Who likes a hypocrite.

    I will ask one thing of everyone, that we all stop pretending that the world is not changing for the better. It is. Pretending otherwise degrades and demeans any argument we offer against those who hold back progess.

    Equality to us all! Long live our Republic!

  3. Ricky Leung

    May 10, 2012 at 11:42 am

    The struggle isn’t really for strictly gay marriage, which was already illegal by state statute. But for the secular civil benefits afforded to people in committed relationships. And at the same time that these are private relationships, they also affect how they interact with society. So it’s not really a private contract, but an agreement between the individuals and society for things like visitation rights, inheritance, child custody, etc., that are handled by the government and not, say, by the church.

    I really hope that with the number of people who harbor such intense distaste for LGBTQ folks that the majority of them were not molested as a child. I really hope that that is the exception and not the rule. But who knows, maybe that’s why so many from the church detests gay people.

    It’s interesting that you point out the civil rights issues between 1933 and 1960. I’m going to lay aside the point that the Democratic party of the past is very different from now and the same can be said of the Republican party. In fact, civil rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue, so I’m just not even going to consider it. But back to the point that they “finally changed.” It’s not because time passes and people all of a sudden become enlightened. It takes positive effort and direct action. Like, for example, the Black Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1968…

    “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.'”

    — Dr. Martin Luther King in a letter to the clergy dated April of 1963.

    As for your point about procreation. That’s just non-sense. There are specific tax breaks for children.. in a family. And anyways, if that’s what you really believe, then let’s revoke the tax status of people who cannot have children because of either choice or nature and also of older folks who can no longer have children.

    Who can ignore the feelings and beliefs of a majority when it smacks you in the face wherever you go? And sometimes literally.

    Trying to justify discrimination by saying that what the majority believes in is not an attractive quality. Do you want to not feel ashamed? Then listen to those with whom you disagree. Otherwise, don’t bother talking. Who likes a hypocrite?

    In some ways, the world is changing for the better, and that’s a result of positive effort, not because time passes.