The other night while Pose on FX was playing in the background, I saw an alert on my phone saying that Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court.  Then I saw religious activists, former friends now enemies, gloating over the nomination and using the opportunity to stigmatize LGBT+ people yet again. They believe repealing gay marriage and stopping the advancement of LGBT equality is right around the corner if Kavanaugh is confirmed.

They may have a good reason to hope for such dastardly results. HRC President Chad Griffin states:

“In nominating Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump has followed through on his threat to nominate a justice who would undermine LGBTQ equality, women’s reproductive rights and affordable healthcare,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Now, the Senate has a responsibility to fulfill its constitutional duty, serve as a check on this reckless president and reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. This nominee was hand-picked by anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice groups in an explicit effort to undermine equality — and the prospect of a Justice Kavanaugh threatens to erode our nation’s civil rights laws, block transgender troops from bravely serving this nation and allow a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people in every aspect of American life. The 2018 midterm elections just became the most consequential elections of our lifetime, and we must seize the opportunity to pull the emergency brake on this regime. We need to vote this November like our lives depend on it — because they do.”

After reading up on various respectable viewpoints regarding the nomination, I looked over at HandyMan Dan (my partner) creating invoices for jobs he had done that day. I wondered if/when we decide to marry… will it be legal to do so then? That’s when I felt fear for the first time on this side of the issue. It was an instinctual, protective, fear from the gut. I wondered that if Dan and I ever did “put a ring on it” we would not receive the same benefits and protections our heterosexual peers receive. I hated this new to me feeling and the pressure it placed on my heart and mind. Then I hated the old me that used to think it was ok to put LGBT+ people in this position; to expect them to go figure something else out to work for their unions.

Sharing my “testimony” at Florida anti-gay marriage amendment kickoff press conference in 2008. Attorney John Stemberger of Florida Family Policy Council is to the left (photo facing) and attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Kim Davis infamy is to the right. I don’t get invited to lunch with those guys anymore.

Remembering my time as a religious right activist is sometimes overwhelmingly sad. I spoke at the inaugural press conference of anti-gay marriage initiatives here in Florida, and testified at other initiatives around the country including Massachusetts, California (Prop 8), New Jersey, Washington DC (Federal Marriage Amendment) and interviews in almost every state advocating “traditional marriage.” I was 20 feet away from President Bush, in the Eisenhower building, when he made his marriage proclamation in support of a Federal (anti-gay) Marriage Protection Amendment. Thankfully that effort never saw the light of day.

Sidenote: I was sitting with Alan Chambers, Dr. James Dobson, and Bubba Cathy (Chik Fil A).

I was a true believer and I was truly very wrong in my beliefs. I’ve apologized a million times over the past few years, but I don’t know that I could ever apologize enough. Many of my LGBT+ friends have said, “Stop apologizing and now that you know better, do better.” I harmed my community, and myself with those beliefs and while I plan on doing better, it still feels like I haven’t apologized nearly enough.

Coming back to last Monday night and the announcement of the Kavanaugh nomination. It has been a little hard to sleep this week worrying how our little family may suffer if I pass away or become disabled; that we still live in a country where Dan and I could lose our jobs simply for being gay. Will anti-gay hatred and discrimination will dramatically increase in the name of “religious freedom?” Worse, what if the public decides it’s ok to roll back time and increase attacks against us not only in public policy, but culturally and even physically? During the course of our relationship, Dan and I have been mocked, jeered and threatened three times (two walking to our destinations here in Orlando, and one while Dan was driving home from Indiana) will that only increase?

The God-fearing folk in the photo would never attack LGBT+ people physically, but their beliefs (my prior beliefs) embolden and empower those who do commit violent assaults against LGBT+ people. We would vehemently deny that but now that I am on the other side of the fence. I have no doubt this dynamic is true.

Tuesday morning I held Dan’s hand as he drove me to work (we are a one car family at the moment.) I watched his face and remembered that as long as we know who we are, who we are together, and live true to what we believe is honorable, honest, and respectful, we will thrive. As I gathered my coffee thermos that Dan lovingly prepared 🙂 and my man-purse to get out of the car, we gave our usual kiss, have a good day, and love yous. Looking back I waved as he drove off. He waved back and love filled my heart. It’s in that moment that the truly important regained is proper focus.

Living rooted in love, we will triumph as individuals. Living rooted in love as LGBT+ families, we and our children will flourish. It was the LGBT+ community extending grace, forgiveness and love that changed my hardened heart. The “true believers” eyes were opened and genuine love unlocked my stained glass closet door. It’s our manifestation of love that will continue to empower love defeating hate, protect our marriages & families, and move LGBT+ equality forward.

The dark clouds over the Supreme Court and the Trump administration will never erase the reality that we are free and equal people, who will vote, who will be loud and proud, and never back down.

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