Do Your Taxes Mean More than My Equal Rights?

Photo: Socialworker.org

Photo: Socialworker.org

Today’s political landscape tends to ignite so much emotion and confrontation that I avoid speaking about it at all cost. This does not insinuate that I don’t care about the nation, or that I’m not educated on the issues. I just try to be the better person and agree to disagree. In my mind, talking politics to some people is like talking to an ex-wife about her recently divorced husband’s adulterous affair…with her sister…over Thanksgiving dinner.

It just doesn’t bode well.

I also don’t write much about being gay. Being gay is one part of a whole that I call, “me”. I’ve always said that it’s part of who I am and not what I’m about. My principles, my personal and professional track record, and my relationships with friends, family and colleagues are what’s important to me – and how I feel history should judge me. This post, however, ties these issues together.

I’m extremely happy to have the right to vote. I’m also happy that I was able to vote, and excited about the outcome. I also have realistic expectations about this presidency — that things will move slowly over the next four years. This will occur because Americans have voted for an increasingly conservative Congress that will, no doubt, continue to block the President’s efforts for progress. Supporters of both parties should understand that to get things done, there needs to be cohesion for the American people, not just for a select demographic. (As far as the economic situation is concerned, let me remind you that President Obama didn’t create this catastrophic meltdown that destroyed almost every major economy on the planet, he inherited it.)

I know (a lot of) people who voted for Gov. Romney. I have family members that voted for Romney. I have friends that voted for Romney and, sadly, know gay people who voted for Romney.

What I would like to know is how these people – people who know the kind of person I am and the level of trust I engender – could vote for someone who would deny me equal rights as a citizen? I want to know how they could place (sketchy) economic reform, which [probably] wouldn’t work in four years, over my right to be a parent? I’d like to have them look me in the eye and tell me how a small tax break means more to them and me having the ability to have equal hospital visitation when a partner is ill.

This idea is not singular to me. I was inspired by a quote from Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Doug Wright, who posted to Facebook:

I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, “My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.”

It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you ‘disagree’ with your candidate on these issues.

If you voted for Romney, you did these things to me. You voted to take away my rights as an equal. You voted to take away the same tax benefits that you receive as a married individual. You voted to demean my lifestyle and those of others.

This issue doesn’t solely revolve around me and my rights. You also voted to take away affordable health care to millions of Americans. You voted to take voted to take away what a woman could do to her body. You voted to unravel what progress we have made over the last four years.

I don’t write this out of spite, or to take away your freedom of choice. I write this to make you understand there’s more at stake than what is in your bank account. Christopher Hennessy, a Huffington Post contributor, wrote, “We need to make clear to our friends and family what the stakes are for them. The stakes are our relationships with them, our continued willingness to meet them without rancor, to feel like part of the family, to not wonder how a slight decrease in their yearly taxes could mean more to them than we do.”

Yes, these are turbulent times and we have a long road ahead. We have made some progress. My hope is that we will continue down that road with each passing moment. But keep in mind that voting is not exclusively about party lines, tax incentives, economic reform and jobs. It’s about voting for the right candidate for your city, district, and state. If voting for the President, your vote impacts everyone living in this great nation, even those individuals right in front of you.

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