This year the day that the United States celebrates it's freedom means a little bit more to me. For most of my life I've lived in this country full of freedoms that were given to some but not all. Today as I sit here typing this I realize that I'm one of the lucky ones.
This country's history is steeped in discrimination, hatred, inequality and ignorance. It wasn't long ago that women were fighting for equality and the right to vote, African Americans were fighting for their freedom and equality, and now it's gay Americans who are struggling. But I know that most people don't see my struggle as a fight for equality. Unlike being born African American, people think that you aren't born gay, that it's a choice.
We were watching a comedian the other night on TV and he said, "Being born gay in the back woods of Alabama is proof enough that being gay isn't a CHOICE!" I laughed as he said this statement, mainly because I know how true it is. I honestly can't wait until the antiquated statement, "It's a choice" goes away. It's been used far too long by people who allow ignorance to rule their "buffet-style Christianity" driven lives.
It seems in every generation there are people who represent each part of the lyrics in our National Anthem. But the end is what sticks in my head right now. "O'er land of free, and the home of the brave!" This land is full of people who are still fighting to be free. And in my mind, those people are brave. The women who go to work every day, some in jobs that are in male dominated fields where they have to work 10 times harder to get as far, you are brave. The women who are fighting to be home with their children to teach them morals and values while still fighting the stigma of being a stay at home parent, you are brave. The minorities who are fighting to keep their culture's way of life alive while trying to support themselves and in some cases their families back home in their native countries, you are brave. The gay Americans, young and old, who are fighting on a daily basis for rights that are afforded to anyone who is not gay, you are brave.
Michael said to me while we were in Tofino, "It still hasn't sunk in fully that we are now considered 'normal' in our country." For the first time in our lives as gay Americans we are considered equal in the eyes of the Federal government. Our marriage is legal and affords us the same rights as heterosexual couples in the state of Washington. While we are fortunate here in our state, gays in other states across this nation are still fighting to get to where we are. There are still 36 states who have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. What is it that we are fighting for when it comes to marriage? There are 1,138 federal benefits that are denied to gay couples that aren't allowed to be married in their home states. (Click here to see these rights) Did you know this? As heterosexual married couples, these rights are taken for granted.
I still feel very fortunate to live in one of the greatest countries in the world where we have as many freedoms as we do. But lets not kid ourselves, we still have a long way to go. But seeing the historic decision made by the Supreme Court recently I know that one day soon "Land of the free, home of the brave" will be an accurate statement. Today, as I celebrate this country's freedom and independence, I will also be thinking of the Americans, gay/straight/minority/majority, who are fighting for freedoms.
I also want to take a moment to recognize that while we are fighting here at home for rights and freedoms, thousands of our men and women in the military are fighting for our country across the world. I don't ever take for granted the fact that so many have put their lives on the line for this country, and so many more still do. Thank you to all the men and women in the Armed Forces, your bravery overwhelms me. And to the spouses and families of these soldiers, YOU are brave, thank you for your service to this country.
Until next time...Keep Cooking.