Tag Archive for marriage equality

Marriage Equality – a personal viewpoint

Ray John Rodriguez - Longmont, CO

Ray John Rodriguez - Longmont, CO

Open Letter to Governor Chris Christie and his Vote Against Marriage Equality:

Dear New Jersey Governor Chris Christie,

I am writing this open letter in the hopes that you or someone you know or someone who can vote in your state will read.

I remember watching you on Oprah’s Next Chapter where she shared dinner with you and your lovely wife and kids. What an engaging, thoughtful and charismatic man you proved to be to me. Today you vetoed the Marriage Equality bill that was passed by the New Jersey Legislature. I guess that’s politics for you.

As a young gay man from Longmont, Colorado, this issue is very important to me. I know that Marriage Equality is only one step in the right direction for full human equality, yet some may assume that Equality is a single issue. In fact they look down on it politically as such. When Marriage Equality affects every aspect of those who are in a loving family, explain to me how this is just one issue. Inheritance (yes if you die your life-long partner if not protected by marriage can be robbed of all that you earned together by distant relatives because the law doesn’t consider you anything more than a roommate), hospital visitation (imagine going to say goodbye and denied the last words together), employment (yes in America you can still be fired JUST for being gay), homelessness (if you are kicked out of your home by your parents because you are gay, 1 in 4 gay high school students face this reality). Explain to me how Equality is ONE issue.

While I respect people’s right to adhere to their private and personal religious values, there is a difference between that and having their religious values literally enforced on the rest of society by robbing rights of those who do not share their religion. In ten years when LGBT Equality is a reality, my husband and my children will look back at votes like yours the way people look at white supremists today. Definition of supremist: One who takes supreme authority for him/herself; one who believes in the supremacy of one race, sex, or social group.

Mr. Chris Christie, you believe only heterosexuals deserve Marriage. By definition that makes you a heterosexual supremist. It took one vote that affects the community in so many ways to paint you in such a dark light. In time, you might be deserving of another episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter. However right now, the way I feel for my gay brothers and sisters in New Jersey, you are but a footnote in Americas Timeline that needs to be elected out. I guess that’s politics for you. In the words of State Senator Pat Steadman, “…the kind that puts people in the back of the bus.”

Respectfully Yours,

Ray Rodriguez

Take 2 or ? on the Mayor and Marriage Equality

There has recently been a good deal of sharp discussion in Longmont over the Mayor’s declaration of some support of “civil unions,” whereby so-called “same-sex marriages” result.

First, it looks like most of the noise originates from sour grapes over the November election. Second, there may be semantic bias — for example, “support” might not mean “approval.” Third, it is difficult for me to decide whether the whole subject is political or religious. These are THE two topics one NEVER brings up in family gatherings, after all.

At the risk of sounding self-righteous (he who is not guilty may cast the first stone), I wonder if some of the rhetoric about the matter may represent some intolerance. I’m not thrilled over “civil (same-sex) unions,” but I recall that many Americans were anything but pleased about allowing African-Americans to vote. The matter easily boils down to consideration of what persons do (vote, marry, invest, eat, die), versus what they are (Caucasian, Republican, Lutheran, homosexual). Not a little of our intolerance can often bounce out of the mirror and strike us upside the head. I know, it’s happened to me.

The question keeps coming up for me: what “class” of citizen am I, really? We can impute all kinds of “meaning” to the symbols in our lives, assuming they are truly needed. If symbols become their objects or their artists, what then? Much of the time one’s point of view determines his reality and acceptance of it. Who’s to say the animals in the zoo do not consider that the bars somehow hold us in, not out?

We have an interest in expecting some things, including much but NOT ALL the behavior of our public servants. The recent case of Hygiene’s fire chief comes to mind. His actions potentially threatened public safety; the actions of people (and that’s all they are) seeking a way to bequeath an estate to a legal “joint tenant” instead of a dachshund don’t harm anyone. I wonder what would have happened if Longmont’s Mayor had said he is gay. But, again, that would be an “is,” not a “do.”

What does a mayor do? In the Longmont form of government the Mayor is really one of the members of City Council. The Mayor administers nothing (a City Manager does that). A mayor can be a booster and a spokesperson in that he or she officially auditions the City to receive benefits including business as well as largesse from higher levels. But the mayor is not a priest whose utterances lobby the Almighty. If citizens expect a mayor to reflect their own thinking to a “T,” there will be disappointment. Group-think reached its nadir in Germany between 1932 and 1945. It works poorly.

Any mayor must represent an entire constituency and not only a slice of it. Those who insist otherwise will probably not be able to stop on the retreat past a very primitive organization of society (think family-clan-tribe), but will likely proceed to a point where Longmont has 87,000 mayors. That’s called anarchy.

In “Fiddler on the Roof” Tevye relaxes his practices for two of his daughters, but he never stops keeping his head covered. What he does socially is compartmentalized from what he is and remains. No mayor ceases being a citizen or a father or a husband or a sibling just because of an election.

I believe a city is fortunate when it has a leader who tries to DO that city’s business, not BE the city’s business. There be dragons in that, a lesson learned in too many places the hard way.

Mayor Coombs: strength, courage and compassion

Dennis Coombs 2011

Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs "broadcasts" his support for marriage equality

I would like to thank Mayor Dennis Coombs for demonstrating strength, courage and compassion in standing up for marriage equality. As we continue to work for the advancement of social justice and basic human rights, it is crucial that we have strong leaders such as Mayor Coombs who are willing to take risks and publicly voice their personal opinions in defense of those who seek equal treatment under the law.

No doubt some will argue that Mayor Coombs violated the edict, “No member of Council, employee of the City, or Council appointee shall state a position or policy of the City until said position or policy has been adopted by affirmation or resolution of Council. No restraint on individual expression is hereby intended, so long as the narrator clearly indicates that the position expressed is his or her individual opinion and not the position or policy of the City.”

But I will submit that Mayor Coombs was quoted in the Times-Call article as stating that his opinion “isn’t the council’s position or the city’s position” and that Mayor Coombs emphasized that this was his personal opinion on the issue when originally contacted by phone for said opinion. Try as they might, Mayor Coombs’ few partisan detractors will continue to obstinately ignore facts in their efforts to paint him in a negative light at every opportunity.

Fortunately for Longmont, we have leaders such as Mayor Coombs who will allow us to continue to grow and progress as a community, even as his partisan rivals seek to inhibit Longmont’s evolution for their own political gains.