Dear Senator Obama,
I supported you in the caucus this week, and I will vote for you today in our Washington state primary. But I am not yet ready to publicly endorse you because of one issue: marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.
I am a straight woman who has been married for over thirty years. One of my two sons, Bill, was bisexual and was assaulted in a hate crime 12 years ago based on his sexual orientation. Very soon after the beating he committed suicide because he believed he would never be safe in this world. He was 17 years old. Now he would be 30.
I read your answers to the Human Rights Campaign questionnaire and all but one of your answers very much impressed me. Question number 6 asked about equal marriage rights for same sex couples, and you responded that you oppose in part with this statement:
“I believe civil unions should include the same legal rights that accompany a marriage license. I support the notion that all people – gay or straight – deserve the same rights and responsibilities to assist their loved ones in times of emergency, deserve equal health insurance and other employment benefits currently extended to traditional married couples, and deserve the same property rights as anyone else. However, I do not support gay marriage. Marriage has religious and social connotations, and I consider marriage to be between a man and a woman.”
It seems to me that you are afraid to use the word marriage although your statement indicates that you understand we are talking about civil marriage. You are afraid to call it by a word, and that goes beyond making no sense to me. It is an example of the core reasons my son lost hope. Perhaps he would still be with us if he saw that people were willing to stand up for him but he did not believe he would ever belong in this world as an equal person. Marriage equality is not ‘the most important issue’ but it is an important issue. I understand it is risky because there are many who oppose it. But you have shown you are not afraid of taking a stand. Your opposition to real civil marriage equality makes no sense if you truly believe in separation of church and state. Bill is gone, but there are so many of our children who we need to stand up with and be fearless for. I am asking you to believe and to risk this. Gabi Clayton
Read all of Barack’s HRC Questionnaire (pdf format)
Obama’s Pride page with links to more information.