BY NATHAN COSBY
President Obama focused his campaign on the words “hope” and “change” in 2008. After six years of the current White House administration, it is that very Hope for Change that I am starting to lose.
See, what I hope for is that someday I will live in an America where no individual is discriminated against based on any aspect of their identity. Our Constitution protects people from being judged by their color, creed, age or gender but we live in a different world than the 1960s.
Today, with all of the advancements in technology, we are still living in the Stone Age when it comes to LGBTQ Rights. The time has come for Oklahoma to make a move.
We are strapped with a governor who would rather put an end to marriage altogether than let this small portion of the population feel equal to the rest, but this obstacle is not an excuse to remain quiet. Speaking up for this cause in particular is something that I see as distinctly Oklahoman, even if at first it does not seem obvious.
Let me begin by saying that for nearly my entire life I have called Oklahoma my home. Growing up in the 1990s in Bartlesville, I was taught about Oklahoma’s founding and the “Oklahoma way” throughout my years in school. To me, Oklahomans were and are communal people that work hard every day to ensure better lives for their families and children.
I still see this as mostly true, but what if that child is gay?
There is a funny transition that occurs in parents of LGBTQ children when they are “come out” to. No matter their stance prior, when their child, their creation and treasure, comes out to them many become activists for equality within weeks if not days.
This is one of the most beautiful transformations that I have ever seen but what we hear too much of in this region is the opposite – parents that disown or distrust their children for revealing their identity. I am not sure there is anything less Oklahoman [or American, for that matter] than this example, and it is important to outwardly depict this as unacceptable because a child with no family support is a child truly left behind.
LGBTQ Rights have evolved into the yes-or-no arena of social issues. What separates this issue from others is that it reveals the systematic discrimination and oppression that our “Straight White Male” government has passed down for generations.
Another thing that makes this issue distinct is that everyone truly has an opinion on it, whereas many other social issues can be divided by gender, age or race parameters. The important thing moving forward is that, as a Straight White Male, we support all people in our community. This means being vocal about your support of LGBTQ rights.
The last major obstacle in front of LGBTQ equality is the Religious Right. They call homosexuality a sin and an abomination, which is perfectly all right for them to do, considering their beliefs are protected by our Constitution.
What is not OK for them to do is to give these “sinners” less rights than they would give straight “sinners.” If a heterosexual man or woman cheats on their spouse resulting in divorce, the Religious Right does not tell them they cannot get married. If a single, hetero woman or man wants to adopt a child, the Religious Right does not tell them they cannot adopt.
These double standards would not be acceptable if they were because of skin pigmentation or religious orientation – but because they are centered on sexual orientation, they have become the norm.
Some of the people closest to me in life are gay. I do not choose to define any one of them as gay, it is simply a single aspect of their full lives. What I see them as is loved ones.
They are the people that I have laughed with, cried with, vacationed with and, most importantly, they are the people that I grew up with. Humans, just like me. So when I approach the thought of them getting “gay married” it really hurts me to the core.
They, just as straight Americans, deserve to get married anywhere at any time without the extra unnecessary obstacles. I believe at this moment much of the weight of this issue falls on the shoulders of straight Americans and we cannot give in now. We are in the final stages of this battle for equality and failure is not an option.
To those who have had to live a lie, or hide your emotions because of a social norm, true Oklahomans stand with you.
– Nathan Cosby is a recent University of Oklahoma graduate living in Norman