Kel Kelly

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Equal Rights Shouldn’t Have An Asterisk

October 16, 2012 5:01 PM

Right or wrong, I have become acutely aware that all of a sudden, I take it as a personal affront that my friends would vote for any candidate who does not support gay rights. As a gay woman, I have always respected the diversity of people’s opinions and believe that’s what makes this country great. However, I think it is unacceptable and against our constitution to have anything short of equal rights for all human beings. While I have always felt this way, up until now, I tolerated and respected friends’ vocal support of the GOP and their anti-gay rights agenda. I’m not sure what changed, but that tolerance is gone.

If a presidential candidate vocally and repeatedly declared that he or she was going to fight against equal rights for Catholics, Jewish, Mormons, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Irish, Italians, physically handicapped, intellectually handicapped, men, women, heterosexuals, senior citizens and/or some other category of people, my friends who fell into any of those categories would never vote for that candidate. Moreover, they would be outraged beyond words.

So why is it OK for a friend to vote for a candidate who doesn’t believe gays are as important as every other human being? Is it because if my friends are not gay then it doesn’t affect them? Think about it for a moment. If I vocally supported a candidate who vowed to fight against equal rights for Catholics, my Catholic friends would go ballistic. Why is that any different when I hear my friends are supporting a candidate who has vowed to fight gay rights? Do I not have the right to be as equally outraged?

I think many of my friends rationalize that it’s not that they have an issue with gay rights, it’s that they have an issue with gay marriage. That is as ridiculous as any of the following statements:

  • It’s OK for African Americans to vote, we just don’t want them using our toilets
  • It’s OK for Catholics to practice their religion, we just don’t want them to have the right to run a daycare
  • It’s OK for Latinos to bear arms, we just don’t want their kids in school with our kids
  • It’s OK for Jewish people to have a right to a speedy trial, we just don’t want them to sit in the same section with us at a ball game
  • It’s OK for women to be in the workforce, we just don’t think they should be paid as much as men
  • It’s OK for Mormons to be innocent until proven guilty, we just don’t want them to be able to run for public office
  • It’s OK for heterosexuals to have personal property, we just don’t want them to have children

This isn’t about gay rights, it’s about human rights. And equal rights should not have an asterisk that carves out some exclusion. Any kind of discrimination is unacceptable. A vote for a candidate who doesn’t support gay rights is a vote for discrimination no matter how you rationalize it in your head.

We as a country will win as a team or lose as a team. We won’t get there through excluding groups of people. Karma doesn’t allow that to happen.

Yesterday, I posted a message on my Facebook timeline that netted out my feelings and for the first time, I invited people I love to unfriend me. And, I’m okay with that. Equal rights matter more than trying to save a friendship.

Please note: Comments on this blog are moderated. Any comments that are focused on personal attacks, bullying, threats or overall negativity will be removed.

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 32 Comments »

32 Comments on “Equal Rights Shouldn’t Have An Asterisk”

  1. James Costantini Says:

    AWESOME piece Kel, it’s disgraceful that our elected figures have the audacity to stand as icons of a nation that was built on the notion of equality yet do not actively work to bring it to everyone. They have no right to call themselves patriots. I’m sorry you’ve had this experience and I hope that someday soon this stain on our history will be gone.

  2. Kel Says:

    james, you have such wisdom for someone so early in their life journey. thank you for the support. i love your passion and appreciate your comment more than you will ever know. peace out my friend.

  3. Karen M. Fuoco Says:

    Yesterdays comments already on my page. Love your passion, and today more enlightened after reading this piece. 100% agreement.

  4. Kel Says:

    thanks karen! that fouco heart — through birth or marriage — will always ooze compassion.

  5. Deb Dobson Says:

    A very good piece Kel. We all need to honor and respect each other for who we are. That is what makes the world such a great place to be. I hate when we see the polarization occur and man, it seems to do so even more during election cycles. I’ve shared this all over my networks.

  6. Kel Says:

    you are the bombdiggity deb! thanks for sharing and for taking the time to comment. i think it was this election that pushed me to the edge and caused my tolerance to evaporate.

  7. Frank Says:

    Kel, I preface my comment by saying it’s probably going to read like a bunch of random threads that make no sense, but Kel, when I saw your post on Facebook last night, I read the link to the Paul Ryan interview…mind boggling. Then, probably because of disbelief and confusion that a guy that smart could think that way, I found link after link of sites and radical movements like one million moms, and other groups that spew venom toward people of diversity.

    What I love about you is that you are relentless in your convictions, and will do anything it takes to do the right thing. We all need to have the emotional fortitude you do to stand-up to “diversity bullies”. I would stand by you any day in battle because I know you have my back 1000% of the time.

    Sadly, these groups cloak themselves by promoting messaging of helping to maintain and foster family values, yet what they really do is spread hatred and prey on misinformed or weak minded individuals.

    All I know is I couldn’t be more proud to be gay and to call you one of my dearest friends. Being gay defines a very small part of who I am as a human being. When we meet our maker, it’s about the life you lead and the mark you make on others that matters most. And as you said, karma is a bitch.

  8. Kel Says:

    frank, you are one of the most courageous people i know. your heart is always pure. and when it comes to empathy and compassion for anything with a beating heart, you are truly remarkable. as i always said, i love you like family paisan.

  9. Little Ricky Says:

    Truth bomb! I can barely approach my feelings about politics without wanting to jettison the planet, so I will simply say, congratulations on your 24-mile high space jump into awesomeness.

  10. Kel Says:

    haha! thanks little ricky!

  11. Monica Young Goldfinger Says:

    Kel, you have more integrity than any person I know. Reading this post made me so sad. I know how huge your heart is and how much you love your friends and family and would fight for them. It saddens me that you have felt even a smidge of pain from those who would not stand up for your, and so many other’s, rights with their vote. It sickens me that this is such a polarizing issue. Not too long ago, I wouldn’t have been able to marry my husband because of religion. Not the same thing at all, but as Frank rightly points out, we have a long history of not supporting human rights in this country. Last night, our kids were talking about someone they know who has to say the pledge of allegiance every day in school. Our kids have always gone to Montessori and didn’t even know it until recently. (OK, a little embarrassing!) Jack, an 8 year-old, pointed out that he would refuse to say it because every one is not free and treated justly. In other words, it’s a lie. I thank you for your unintended role in helping my kids understand that. And for making it feel personal enough to them too to speak out. Loudly. As you know they can! Lots of love!

  12. Shelley Says:

    Right on, Kel Kelly. I’m with you 100%. I wish I could be as brave to make a statement like that on my FB. I have so many friends and family that support the Republican agenda for a variety of reasons. I don’t respect it but I tolerate it because I don’t want to lose them in my life.

  13. Kel Says:

    monica, as always, your comment is so insightful and has such stopping power. i love my gop friends and family. i just can’t tolerate their support of discrimination and hate — even though i know many don’t even realize they are doing it. it makes me incredibly sad too, but i feel a tremendous sense of liberation having posted this. i am prepared to let the cards fall where they may. i will always love whatever friends i lose through this fallout. on a side not, why am i not surprised jack had never heard the pledge of allegiance. anyone who didnt know what pringles are certainly marches to his own beat. haha. love you guys.

  14. Kel Says:

    i totally respect that perspective shelley. it took me a long time to get to this point. i think having a gay daughter and seeing the gop votes as a direct statement against her rights as a human being pushed all tolerance out the window for me. the genie is out of the bottle and there is no turning back. it feels great!

  15. Nancy Says:

    Kel, you so clearly articulated what I have been feeling this whole election season. Kudos to you! I have tried looking the other way when FB “friends” posted ridiculous things supporting Republicans. When someone I knew in high school accused another gay friend of shortsightedness for being a one issue voter, I nearly lost my mind. Yes, I am a one issue, equal rights believing, married lesbian with a 5 year old african american son. I do not wnat to explain to my son why “friends” and our government don’t consider our family legitimate or anything less than equal. Go Kel!

  16. Kel Says:

    go nancy! i loved this line and just reread it to ginny: “yes, i am a one issue, equal rights believing, married lesbian with a 5 year old african american son.” equal rights should be the one issue that should matter. if a candidate can only fix the economy by discriminating against a group of americans, then they don’t deserve anyone’s vote. again, we win as a team and lose as a team.

  17. Geo Says:

    Wow Kel, that really puts it out there.
    I so agree with you but will ask to read through the first few sentences to get to my conclusion.
    I’m not a republican, but I know a lot of republicans that do not share that point of view (Ryan’s rant). There are some good people and bad people in both parties. I will not vote for Obama for a number of reasons. My vote (as is everyone’s) is sacred and something that has to be earned. I guess that’s one way to blanket describe why I wouldn’t vote from Obama, he hasn’t earned it. It’s almost always a vote for the lesser of two evils unfortunately.
    You are exactly right about supporting, however, a candidate that has backwards views and stands on something that shouldn’t even be an issue. in 2012 why is equality not a given? Your examples are good ones, the country was based on religious freedom but still had slaves, and women not allowed to vote etc etc… the country has come a long way but there is still quite a ways to go.
    The republicans really need to take a look at some of what they stand for. They do NOT have my vote. They need to earn it.
    So many of my favorite people on earth are gay; some of the most talented, brilliant, decent, funny, productive people…some of the best parents… are gay & they are my friends, my family and my fellow countrymen.
    Not equal? Not got my vote!!!
    Kel: I am so proud of my cousin Kel.

  18. Kel Says:

    thanks for sharing your perspective geo. interestingly, i dont think in his heart of hearts that romney wants to discriminate against gays — i know many will disagree with that statement. he has been playing to the far right for votes. when he saw that he was still losing, he started to move a bit more to the center. that waffling is unfathomable to me. i cant imagine altering who i am to please anyone. if you live your life as a good person and spread as much happiness as possible, there is no reason to be anything but who you are. love and respect would solve a lot of the world’s problems.

  19. Tom Grimshaw Says:

    Kel – you know how I feel. I also invited loved ones and others to unfriend me yesterday. I can’t remember feeling so great in a long time.

    Nothing trumps equality. Nothing else matters, if we are not equal.

    Thanks for articulating it better than I ever could.



  20. Kel Says:

    tom, your invitation yesterday to loved ones to unfriend you was the catalyst for this post. it seemed so obvious. and so brave. thank for the inspiration.

  21. Joanna Marie Roshe Says:

    Thanks again for standing up, Kel. I am totally at a loss as to how anyone with any connection to someone in the LGBT community can consider voting for Romney. Here’s an article that tells some well known stories of Romney and his actions during his time as governor:

  22. Kel Says:

    thanks for sharing that link joanna!

  23. Beth Says:

    Article 1.

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  24. Kel Says:

    thank you beth — that sums it up in one line. i didn’t see an asterisk. such a simple concept. unfortunately, some have lost the spirit of brotherhood. it’s sad and disgraceful.

  25. Rebecca Says:

    I was just letting this piece marinate and may have an answer as to why this election has changed your tolerance towards the unwarranted intolerance regarding equal rights, as you say:

    “While I have always felt this way, up until now, I tolerated and respected friends’ vocal support of the GOP and their anti-gay rights agenda. I’m not sure what changed, but that tolerance is gone.”

    President Obama was the first (I think?) Democratic or Republican Presidential candidate who openly supported gay marriage. That explicit declaration of support for equal rights for homosexuals forces the other candidate to respond. Thus creating a binary between the two, as Governor Romney openly disagreed with the President by claiming marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.

    Another interesting thing I noticed, particularly in the VP deate, was Paul Ryan’s opinion that “it is impossible for personal/religious beliefs to affect one’s policies”.

    From what I understand about our country’s foundation, we pride ourselves on the separation of church and state. You can independently believe what you want (even though I may strongly disagree) but our country was built on the notion that personal/religious ideals should not affect the general population. Joe Biden then responded that his own religion does not condone gay marriage, but as an elected official, he believes his personal/religious views cannot dictate that of an entire country.

    Paul Ryan’s comment really offended me, and I’m lucky enough to have the right to marry who I choose to marry as a heterosexual. He blatantly voiced support for an unconsitutional ideal. What gives me the right to marry the person of my choice over some of my best friends and role models? The answer should be NOTHING, but unfortunately, it’s religious politics, a fundamental flaw in this and many other campaigns.

    Again, thanks for bringing up this issue as it is something that gets overshadowed by other issues in the election. This is one of the defining differences between the two candidates and it is important we raise the appropriate amount of awareness this unconstituional discourse and subsequent action deserves.

  26. Kel Says:

    rebecca, thank you so much for your well articulated perspective. you bring up remarkable points regarding the separation of church and state. i’m sure a lot of things pushed me over the edge. i think one point that was probably the explosive catalyst came out in the ryan article i link to above. he is not just talking about not giving equal rights to gays. he is talking about repealing rights (ie marriage) that have already been granted in many states. so it’s not just about not supporting human rights, it is about going to the extreme to ensure rights are stripped away from a population of people who have done nothing more than love someone. i can’t even see straight when i think of the hatred that drives such thinking.

  27. Janet Says:

    It’s been cited a lot that during his time as governor Romney had his “I didn’t know you had families” comment… someone shared that link in the comments here too… and that is so heartbreaking. Above all else you and Ginny are such wonderful mothers. It makes me mad someone would say that. :( Good on you for taking a stand!

  28. Kel Says:

    thanks janet! i appreciate your kind words and support. i would put my money on you for anything you decided to take a stand against. ;)

  29. Mark Says:

    Well said Kel! You do a wonderful job articulating an argument that I have found myself making to friends. Thanks for your inspiring words.

  30. Kel Says:

    you’re welcome mark! thanks for taking time to read the post.

  31. Sarah & Lap Says:

    Hi Kel,
    This piece has been swirling in my mind since I first read it last night. It is eloquent, succinct and dead on the money. Lap and I discuss this often and it is unfathomable to us that anyone could support candidates like the GOP’s ticket at the moment — I don’t care HOW conservative one is in all the other aspects of their lives! Equal rights trumps everything–and I mean EVERY.THING–else. Thanks for putting my thoughts into words. Hope all is well with you and Ginny and we get to cross paths again (lookin’ at you, Lindy!). Cheers, Sarah & Lap

  32. Kel Says:

    sarah & lap, thanks so much for taking the time to comment! i have heard your point echoed consistently — equal rights is the most important issue on anyone’s agenda. violating the constitution for the first time puts the whole country on a slippery slope. on a side note, i’m looking at lindy too. haha!

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