“Accept” and “tolerate” not good enough

Last month U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) reversed his stance on gay marriage, largely because his son is gay, and although I felt like I should have been happy about it, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Of course, I’m happy that there is another senator willing to support the civil rights of all U.S. citizens, but my knee-jerk reaction was, “Oh, you support gay marriage now because it directly affects your family? Well, guess what, Mr. Senator: The rest of our kids matter too.” I know that that thought was not generous, and I’m not proud of it, but my frustration is real, and the problem of homophobia is real, reports Huffington Post

“Then U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) made his own announcement. It turns out that he has a gay son too, but his opposition to marriage equality is not going to change. He also made a point to say that he loves his son. A few days later his son did an interview in which he spoke about how his father loves him and is incredibly tolerant. Now I wasn’t frustrated; I was furious. I was furious at this father for putting his politics before the rights of his kid, and I was furious that his child felt the need to defend his father when his father sure as hell isn’t defending him.

“But when I let my temper simmer down and took a step back, I saw that this is an issue that goes far beyond two GOP politicians and their kids.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from gay kids all across the country. A lot of them don’t have supportive families, but some do. I cherish the good stories, but there’s often a moment in those good stories that makes my heart hurt: when they tell me how happy they are that their parents “still” love them — because all those kids knew that not loving them was an option.

“With politicians there is a lot talk of “acceptance” and “tolerance” when it comes to homosexuality, and I can’t help but think that those are the wrong words. I accept the fact that I have to pay taxes. I tolerate the fact that I have to go to the dentist. Why should either of those words apply to how a parent feels about their child?

“Parenting is one of the true choices that we have; it’s something that we all choose intentionally. Sure, people can become pregnant when that wasn’t their plan, but carrying that child to term is a choice. Parenting the child once he or she is born is a choice. No one has to do it. And with parenting come obligations, and the number-one job of any parent is to love their child. Period.Hate is also a choice. People choose to hate what they don’t understand, what scares them and what their religion tells them is wrong. (And speaking of religion, that’s a choice too.) Nothing about hate is inherent. And it is always a tragedy when anyone chooses to let their hate make their decisions for them. But what is not a choice? Being gay. I once had a girl write to me saying that she prays every night to be made straight, because then her family could be happy again. Anyone who thinks that a child would make the choice to be gay is obtuse and not worth engaging in a discussion of the issue.


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