Many gay and lesbian families are afraid
to speak up.
The New Year is here, and our nation is facing an incoming president who is not a friend to gay Americans.
This calls for a collective New Year's resolution for gay families and their supporters. Now more than ever, we must resolve to make our families visible and renew our commitment to our vision of equality.
I am concerned that the next four years adversely will affect my family, my community and the estimated 10 million children being raised in loving families by parents who are gay.
My father came out as gay when I was 5 years old. Since then, he has been in a committed, same-sex relationship -- 23 years and counting. While I am heterosexual, I grew up aware of how my family was affected by anti-gay policies and attitudes.
My parents could have been fired because they were gay. I worried that police could have ignored my family's requests for help if we ever had to report gay bashing. If my father's life partner had been stricken by an incapacitating medical condition, my father would not have been allowed to make decisions on his behalf.
George W. Bush has referred to gay rights as ``special rights.'' But the only special right that gay Americans have is to be discriminated against with impunity.
In 39 states, it is still legal to fire workers based on their sexual orientation. Gay parents risk losing visitation rights to their children when they fight for custody against a straight ex-spouse in a homophobic court system. In Florida, Utah and Mississippi, gays and lesbians cannot adopt children.
Because of these inequalities, many gay and lesbian families are afraid to speak up. And when they do not or cannot speak up, it perpetuates a myth that such families do not exist. But when we show politicians that this population consists of actual human beings -- someone's daughter, son, sister, brother, mother or father -- it becomes harder to justify anti-gay policies that threaten their human rights.
Bush's record shows that he is against same-sex marriage, opposes adoption by gay parents and supports anti-sodomy laws. He also has avoided a direct answer when asked if he would hire gay people.
But in his acceptance speech, Bush said, ``The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background.''
Let's hold him to his word.
Abigail Garner is a writer and activist in Minneapolis.