Sunday, November 1, 2009

Approve Washington Referendum 71: Guest Post by Dennis Brown

Greetings, Citizen Gonzo readers!

Today, I have a guest post from a Washington State resident who supports the effort to approve R-71. He's a dear friend of mine and Mr. Gonzo's, and he has worked hard on spreading the word to approve this referendum. I hope you'll give him your eyes, ears and respect as he writes about his stance on this issue.

I'm also looking for a blogger or concerned citizen to write in opposition of the referendum, so we can have "point and counterpoint" discussion. Contact me if you are interested by leaving a comment on this post.

Referendum Measure 71 – Save The Domestic Partnership Law

In 2009, after years of debate and careful consideration of all of the facts, the Domestic Partnership Law was overwhelmingly passed by both houses of the Washington State Legislature. This law finally gave basic rights to gay, lesbian, and non-married elderly couples who are in committed relationships, allowing them some, but not all, of the basic legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples in our state.

There are many different kinds of Families today, and the truth is there always have been. Gay and lesbian families are not some modern invention. World history tells us that these families have been documented for many hundreds of years. They have been undeniably persecuted and victimized by those who would seek to deny them basic civil rights. Let’s not forget that there were pink triangles in Hitler’s death camps and gays and lesbians were some of the favorite targets to be singled out for gruesome deaths. If you don’t think gay and lesbian men and women experience discrimination and prejudice in jobs and housing to this day, you are simply out of touch with reality. I have personally experienced this discrimination first hand. It is real. This Referendum is just one more example of one group of people attempting to take away the rights of another group that they don’t “approve of”. That is essentially the definition of prejudice and bigotry.

I am appalled that large numbers of Russian Immigrants have marched in support of this referendum in our state. I guess they would like to see our country be more like the oppressive country they recently fought so hard to leave. Why did they come here in the first place? Wasn’t it because of our laws that allow equal rights for all citizens? Wasn’t it because of freedom? Not freedom and equality for some, but for all? Have they forgotten so soon? I don’t think they thought about it very well before they started marching. This is Not a country that is proud of discrimination. Bigotry, Prejudice, and Hatred are not “Family Values” in America. Maybe they are in Russia. How very, very sad.

Opponents to this law would have you believe that their rigid definition of Family is the only one that should be recognized. They have their legal rights and protections and no one else deserves them. They believe that it is somehow justifiable to deny these basic protections to all families. They must have a very different vision of what America is supposed to be than I do. How has it become “right” that one group can take away rights from another group of citizens because they don’t “approve” of their lifestyle? Is that what we want America to become? Who is next in this “authorized discrimination”? Do we want to allow religious zealots from another state to spread their message of hatred and bigotry here? When will they come for you? Will the Russians be marching because they don’t like something about you and those like you? It’s absolutely scary. If you’re not bothered by these activities, you should be. If you believe in the basic tenants of our Constitution, “That All Men Are Created Equal, Endowed With Inalienable Rights”, you should be angry. I suppose you have the right to pass moral judgment in your home, or if your church promotes judging others, then in your church. But be very clear: This election has nothing to do with your approval or disapproval of a lifestyle. This is a vote about Equal Rights for all citizens in our state.

These rights in question include: the right to take unpaid leave to care for a critically ill loved one without being fired, to be able to cover a partner under family health insurance, to make sure hard-earned pension benefits and death benefits protect children when a parent dies.

Don’t be fooled. An ugly thing is happening here. A small ultra conservative group, funded and encouraged by an extreme, anti-gay religious organization from outside of Washington State, is working to take basic rights away from a small minority of citizens. These are not some “special” rights, as these hate groups have called them, they are basic civil rights. Shouldn’t everyone have the right to visit their loved one in the hospital as they are dying? Shouldn’t you have the right to take unpaid leave to care for a loved one who is critically ill? Is it a special right to be able to stay in a home you have shared with a partner for 30 years?

We cannot allow this sort of bigotry to happen in Washington. We can’t afford to take a giant step backward into the dark ages. The argument that retaining these rights for families protected under the law will somehow weaken or take anything away from heterosexual marriage is absolutely ludicrous. Is heterosexual marriage such a tenuous and fragile thing that it will fall apart so easily? If we believe in long-term committed relationships as being the foundation upon which our Nation is built, how can we say “yes, but only certain committed relationships that we “approve” of. How arrogant and elitist can we get! Don’t be swayed by scare tactics and lies. This is an Equal Rights issue, not an opportunity to pass moral judgment on others. Vote with your heart and with your mind. Remember what it means to all of us to be an American, with Liberty and Justice for ALL.

Approving Ref. 71 ensures that important legal protections are not taken away from committed couples, so that they are able to take care of each other, especially in times of crisis. Keep the domestic partnership law - Vote APPROVE on Ref. 71 by Nov 3.

Washington Citizen
Concerned ForThe Rights Of All Families

Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown is a Seattle Realtor, a member of the Equal Opportunity/Cultural Diversity National Committee of the National Association of Realtors, a Founding Member of the GLTB Cultural Center in Seattle, a Member of the Washington Realtor Diversity Committee, a Founding Member of the SKCR Diversity Committee, 2010 President of the Seattle/King County Realtors, a Certified Instructor for The Washington Housing Finance Committee, a Member of the FPC Committees for Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Jim McDermott. He is a proud Gay Parent of two amazing children, ages 10 and 16. He believes that he and his Family deserve each and every right provided in the US Constitution and the Laws of Washington State. He believes that there is something very wrong with "Liberty And Justice For Some" and that Institutionlized Discrimination is something we must all fight to stop.

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1 comment:


I studied the constitution much and not once found anything about time off work to care for loved ones. Most companies are having a hard enough time staying afloat and you want them to give employees days off to take care of loved ones.