A Tale of Two Photos, Two Children and Two Sides
By terrymckenzie on Oct 20, 2008
I'm holding two photographs in my hand. One is my son Andrew's senior picture from high school some seven years ago. He's trying to smile for the camera but looks hesitant and uncomfortable. The other is of Andrew at his senior prom, joy beaming from his face. Dressed in a tux, grinning ear-to-ear, he poses with his date, Dustin. How strong do you have to be to take a same sex date to your senior prom in high school? Very. It took courage and conviction. It wasn't a prank. It was a date.
I work for a company that deeply values diversity. And I'm betting you do, too. In good times, in bad times, having the best talent and having different perspectives make a difference in the marketplace. So we treat people fairly, regardless of skin color, religion, age, ethnic background, sexual orientation. Because it's good business and the right thing to do. It makes me proud to work for Sun.
How ironic, then, that we are headquartered in California, where a proposition is posed to pass that changes the State constitution and eliminates the rights of people who make up between 7 to 10 percent of the population. I'm speaking of Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage. The last time we had something so ugly on the books was with the miscegenation laws banning marriage and intimate relations between people of different color. Those didn't go away until the 1960's, to our shame. (Oh, and we weren't alone – Nazi Germany and South Africa had those laws, too, for a period of time.)
What's equally disturbing to me are the people I see out campaigning for this – college kids, church ladies, their earnestness shining on their faces. I look at them and wonder, “What did a gay person ever do to you?”
Last weekend, I returned home from the grocery store, shaking in anger. Some of those nice Proposition 8 supporters had been marching outside my store, waving their signs of support for a proposition that would steal my son's future. As I slammed grocery bags on the counter, I vented my feelings about Proposition 8. My husband listened quietly and said, “You know, Terry? This has nothing to do with hate. You need to understand that this is a huge cultural change – accepting something that hasn't been accepted for generations." A good, rational point, but it didn't really calm me down – that took an hour of running on the treadmill.
Look, my son has brown eyes. My daughter has blue eyes. My son is gay. My daughter is straight. They no more chose their sexual orientation than they chose their eye color – it's just how they were born. As my niece was born. As Dick Cheney's daughter was born. As some of my neighbors – and yours – were born. As some of my colleagues – and yours – were born. As some of my friends – and yours – were born. As 7 to 10 percent of us were born.
We have huge problems in this country that we need to fight together. The dreadful economy. Global warming. Job creation. Education. At a time when being united and having the full population working to solve problems, do we really need to be tearing ourselves apart? Can't we all put our energies behind something constructive that will help push forward, not push us back?
I'm voting a resounding NO on Proposition 8. Before you vote, please think about your friends, your colleagues, your neighbors, your family – the hidden 7 to 10 percent of us who were born with a different sexual orientation. Please don't vote to take away their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.