An open letter to Dick Cheney:
Dear Mr. Vice-president, you’ll be in Cheyenne this week to speak at a Republican Party gathering. As a father who knows the truth, you could educate some of them on a human rights matter, the rights of gays and lesbians to marry.
It’s ironic, perhaps hypocritical, that Republicans invite you to speak and raise money for them while most insist your home state be one place where your daughter could never have celebrated one of the most important events in the life of your family, her wedding. It isn’t just that they refuse to recognize her marriage, but what they think and say aloud about people of her sexual orientation that is most troubling.
This year several courageous Republicans supported marriage equality. Representatives Keith Gingery, Sue Wallis, Dan Zwonitzer, Ruth Ann Petroff, Matt Greene and Senators Michael Von Flatern and Bruce Burns deserve our gratitude. These honest conservatives joined Democrats Cathy Connolly, Mary Throne, James Byrd, Chris Rothfuss, and Bernadine Craft in asserting that a government that can decide who you can marry is too big and intrusive.
There are others who are not near so enlightened. Take Representative Lynn Hutchins. You’d think someone whose ancestors confronted “Whites Only” signs at drinking fountains wouldn’t support a “Heterosexuals Only” sign at the marriage bureau. But she told fellow-legislators, “Science does not evidence a genetic involvement to homosexuality. It is but a choice. Being black is involuntary. Homosexuals may choose who they want to be.”
Mr. Vice-president, you and I know better. Like you, God made someone close to me homosexual. In your case a daughter, in mine a brother. Your daughter married her partner in 2012. My brother died of a heart attack in 2006 after 20 years in a committed, loving relationship. You and I witnessed their struggles and suffered with them. Neither had any choice whatsoever over their sexuality. No one submits voluntarily to the worst kind of discrimination and public taunts of politicians.
Being homosexual means being targeted by derisive and mean-spirited judgments of people like Rep. Hutchins who told colleagues, “The gay lifestyle is harmful to the mind, spirit and body.” Mr. Vice-president, tell Ms. Hutchins and Rep. Mark Baker of your daughter’s delightful spirit, how she brings you joy and how her sexual orientation should not deprive her of constitutional rights.
Hutchins also called AIDS “gay-related immune deficiency.” Rep. Mark Baker told the House that same-sex marriage would be good “for the funeral business” because most gays and lesbians die early of AIDS. That’s not only ignorance. It’s bigotry. And no one chooses to subject themselves to that kind of hate speech.
Unless you and I challenge the lies and those who tell them, homosexuals will always be subjected to the judgment of people who self-appoint themselves as God’s quality control team. Pastor Shaun Sells of Calvary Chapel told legislators homosexuality is “morally depraved. The Bible, he said, is “very clear.” Apparently it isn’t clear enough about loving one another.
The problem is, no matter what preachers say someone may believe them. Jesus called those who read the Bible so literally as to harm others “a brood of vipers.” While you’re in town you’ll have the opportunity to speak to the brood, not only as a fellow Republican but also as a father.
There is perhaps no one with the high standing you have among the brood who knows that what they say is foul, offensive and despicable. As a pastor, I’ll debate them over their flawed and hurtful reading of the Bible. But as a father, you can tell them what you learned from the experiences of your own family, the painful as well as the joyful.
Friends shouldn’t let friends remain bigots. Fathers shouldn’t stand silent among those who falsely judge their daughters and others like them. You and I know homosexuality is not a choice. It’s the way God chose to make some of us and that’s okay because our God doesn’t make mistakes.