Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Open Letter to my Friends and Family

Good Day,

Over the last couple of days I have tried to come up with a way to address some things that have been bothering me. How do I communicate to everyone without alienating anyone? How do I express my opinions and perceptions to everyone without putting people and their opinions into one universal bucket? After pondering these questions I decided the best thing to do would be to post this note to Facebook and my BLOG.

What's been on my mind lately, well if you have been following my posts and the various articles I have passed on you know. Although I am a gay man (I know shocker) it doesn't define the type of person I am, nor does it really describe who I am. It's a term that I (and others) use because 1. I am attracted to someone of the same gender and more importantly 2. I met, fell in love with and have spent (and will spend) my life with another man. I am also Jewish. I am a recovering alcoholic who will celebrate 20 years of sobriety in October. I am a hard worker. I am a Son, a Brother and an Uncle. I love fiercely and am passionate about a great many things. I love to read. I am the best friend you will ever have. I will defend your right to be who you are with my heart and soul. I will stick up for you and get mad with you when something or someone does you wrong. These are just some of the things that make me who I am. Those of you closest to me know these things about me, and have experienced most of them.

A great many of you know Jeffrey. 18 years ago we met. 16 years ago we decided that it was time to take the next step. In another time, or another place we would have been engaged and then married. Unfortunately this wasn't something that we were allowed to do. So, we did what we could. We moved in together. We registered Domestic Partners with the City of West Hollywood and then the state of California. Like most of you when you got married we put our lives together and never looked back. The last 18 years have been the best of my life and I look forward to what the future holds for us together. We laugh, we cry (well, I do mostly) and we share in each other's successes and failures. Like everyone else that has been in a committed long term relationship, we come first for each other.

That's why I'm posting this letter. Some people out there (maybe even some of you here who call me friend) think that it's not OK to "redefine" marriage. To those people I ask: how are we redefining marriage? Isn't marriage about two people committing their lives to one another? Isn't marriage about two people stating that NO MATTER WHAT you are the person I want for the rest of my life? That's what marriage means to me. Some people think it means something else. Some people think it means that marriage is about procreation. Would you deny your grandparent or parent the right to marry after their husband or wife died and they found someone special to spend their remaining days with? What about those of you who have been divorced and are now remarried? Did you have more children with that person, and if not why marry you aren't procreating? Even if you did, what about the children you may have had with that previous spouse? I don't judge, I just ask you to take a look at where you are and how my life or my relationship has impacted yours. Can you find somewhere that my relationship has caused you harm? Many people have told me that we are an example of what they want (whether we like it or not...) :)

When you talk about Conservative vs. Liberal are you so busy listening to Fox News, or MSNBC that you don't look at the facts? Are you blinded by the Glenn Beck's or Keith Olberman's of the world? Do you only look at one side of an issue? Do you really believe that this issue was decided by an activist judge, one who is on record as being a conservative judge? Have you lost sight of the three branches of government? Do you think that I chose this lifestyle: that I decided one day that I would be attracted to men, so I could be persecuted, hated and threatened? Would you choose this? Did you make a conscious decision one day of what gender you were attracted to?

This isn't about religion. This isn't about redefining anything. This is about civil rights. This is about equal protection. Why should I be denied what you have and what some people take for granted? Why don't I have the choice to marry the person that I love? You know me. You know who I am. Some of you know where I came from and have experienced me at different points in my life. Do you think that I should have the same rights and benefits as you, or at least the choice? This isn't about politics. This is about my right as a Citizen of the United States to marry the person I love.

Finally I want to address the issue around Target and Best Buy. Some of you have decided that it's OK to support Target. You are entitled to your opinions and views. I would like you to understand my point of view. I would hope that you will read this and understand that this isn't about politics for me. This is about the simple fact that Target took money from their employees (albeit willingly) and donated it to a candidate. This candidate, regardless of his affiliation (he just happens to be Republican) donates money to a group of musicians who feel it's OK to advocate for the killing of gays and lesbians (is this what your God tells you is OK? Theirs apparently does). This candidate feels that it's OK to enshrine discrimination in the US Constitution. This isn't about conservative or liberal. This is about hate. There is a very real separation of Church and State in this country. That candidate has every right to believe what he does, just as you have every right to support him. All I ask is that you think about why you support him, and if you believe that all of his other views outweigh the right he thinks he has to discriminate against me. How would you feel if he decided that it was OK to outlaw religion in this country? Religion is a choice; you weren't born with a belief, were you? You were raised, or came to your beliefs through other means. What if this candidate felt it OK to donate money to the KKK or a white supremacy group? What if Target donated to Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Boxer, two people Conservatives call Ultra Super Liberal? Would you then feel like you do?

With all of the struggles and heartache we are going through as a country today is it really necessary to spend the millions of dollars on getting elected? Why not give back? Why not give to your community?

In closing dear friends let me say again that you, like me are entitled to your opinion. Think about the fact that some of your decisions affect me in a very real way. They affect the people I love, and in turn affect you.

After 18 years with the same person in a committed relationship why shouldn't I have the right to marry? Why shouldn't I have the right to the same protections? In a time of hate mongering and disingenuous rhetoric let's remember that we are one nation. There is room for all of us here. If we want fiscal and social responsibilities look for those that provide that. Don't listen to what Fox News or MSNBC or CNN tell you. Don't listen to the ads on TV. Do your research. Look at the whole picture. Think about the fact that I don't have what you do (at least some of you).

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Letter to Target CEO

Over the last week Target has been in the news, because the Target Corporation contributed $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, a political action committee that supports Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay marriage and equal protection for all LGBT people. Your CEO came out and stated that this contribution was made because this candidate stood for creating new jobs. If that is what he believes, than he can donate this money out of his own pocket.

I fully understand Target's policies and support of the LGBT community, but when you get in the middle of politics and donate corporate money to a candidate your internal company policies become irrelevant. Your CEO's statement that this was about job creation sounds good on the surface, but look at where this money will go. Instead of taking this money and funneling it into a campaign that will spend it on TV adds, why not invest in the community around you? That $150,000 that will now go to the TV stations and into Advertising could have gone back to the community you want to help. How many small businesses could have used this money ? How many job’s could this have created, had it not gone to a Political Action Committee?

I can say that until something is done to change this policy I will stop shopping at Target stores. It's unfortunate, as your corporation does so much, but I can't allow my money to end up in the hands of politicians that spew hate and discrimination. I hope that this reaches someone who can do something about this issue.

Rick M. Seymour