This I Believe

Brenda - Manlius, New York
Entered on June 6, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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Monday, June 5, 2006

This morning, I awoke with a heavy heart. This morning, my news program told me my president would be talking about limiting my rights as an American citizen.

In the venerated Rose Garden, where so many hopeful messages of reconciliation, peace and promise have been delivered, my president said he needs to protect America from people like me.

This needs to happen because I am a person to be feared, and because the quiet life I try to live is a threat to others. Why? Because I am different. I am a lesbian. And I have been in a long-term relationship with a woman for more than nine years. In July, we must travel to another country, Canada, to marry. Were we to stay in Canada, our marriage would be legal and recognized. But once we step back across the border, that marriage has meaning only to us.

It breaks our hearts that this country, where we were born, grew up, were educated, and have worked since age 18, doesn’t think we are good enough to be treated like everyone else. We don’t have the right to declare our relationship, and have the legal rights and responsibilities that go with marriage.

We have, however, been good enough to pay taxes all those years—33, to be exact—but we are not good enough to be afforded the same rights as others who were lucky enough to be born heterosexual.

We live peaceful, productive lives. We have a nice home, two dogs, two cats, a mortgage, hopes, fears and dreams, just like everyone else. I am a college professor, who recently received an award for teaching at a major private university. My partner works for an organization that arranges transportation and appointments for the elderly. We are both college-educated. We are daughters, sisters, aunts, great-aunts, cousins, colleagues and friends.

As I watch the old white men debate my future as a gay American, I see that they do not look like me, and I believe they do not understand me. But, more than anything, they do not speak for me. Yet they will decide my future as a free—or not so free—American.

We are off to distant lands to protect democracy and freedom. But for me and my future wife, our freedoms are limited, and these old white men want to limit our freedoms even further.

For the first time in my life, I am troubled to be an American. My father fought in World War II and both of my brothers served in the Army, one as a medic and Green Beret and one as a physician. They all served to defend freedom. Freedom for all Americans.

I believe we are perilously close to achieving a theocracy in this country. History has demonstrated this results in a decline in freedoms, in free speech, and in civil rights for everyone. I believe my country is being hijacked. And it breaks my heart.