A straight ally’s open letter to Governor Bredesen

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by T. K. Hill

To Governor Bredesen:

It is unfortunate, Governor Bredesen, that you support the proposed Tennessee constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. I am not gay. I am a father of two heterosexual sons and the brother and son of heterosexual men. Yet my family, as does every family, knows and loves someone who is gay or lesbian. In my case, it is an uncle that is now in his early ’60s as well as many friends in the state of Tennessee. I personally watched my uncle struggle with his sexuality and agonize over the religious doctrine of his faith and have had some discussions with friends that would terrify you if you knew how their church and family have treated them. The very people that are supposed to love you unconditionally are the ones that no longer love them.

Now—something I never thought they would have to deal with—their very freedoms are being threatened by the country of their birth. I always thought those freedoms would be there as promised in our constitution. Why do we feel we have the right to take away the rights and freedoms of any group of legal, tax paying citizens of a country that supposedly guarantees them!

Governor Bredesen, from your comments it is clear that you do not believe this should be a part of our constitution. Isn’t your time, as well as the time of our state government, better spent on things that affect our lives! What do you think will happen on the passing of this amendment? Education will somehow magically improve and everybody will graduate from high school and move on to college and beyond? Crime will suddenly stop as criminals come and lay their guns in the street and the environment just cleans itself right up? There will never be another ethics violation and our government will from now on be spic and span? Energy prices will fall, just as soon as we strip this one group of freedoms and rights! Tell me sir, why are we even having this conversation?

I will be 50 soon enough, and I am tired. I am tired of our leadership turning the other way when they know something is ridiculous and wrong, using one issue to side-step a more important one, creating a smoke screen or being just downright unfair. We now live in a society where popularity is more important than truth and money more important than ethics. Are you not tired of this as well? Can you look at your grandchildren, knowing down the road that one of them may be gay or lesbian, and say yes to something that will affect their lives and the lives of their children for generations to come? When history looks back at this time and sees how we didn’t deal with so many issues that affect our lives and ultimately theirs, because we were caught up in a doctrinal war that should stay in the church. As their world falls apart, they shake their heads in disbelief that this is what was important to us!

My mother just turned 71 and was a teacher for almost 50 years. As one who studies history, she said something very interesting on a recent visit: “Well, it’s started. We are now eating each other up from the inside out. Rome, Greece…you name any great society and this is what destroyed them.”

As much as we might want to deny the homosexual population as “our own,” they are citizens of this country. Once they are denied rights, who is next? When does it stop? Who makes those decisions, the church? Have you read that history? Is this really the road we want to go down?

Governor Bredesen, I understand it may be unpopular in this state and it might affect you directly to stand up and call this what it is: a brazen attempt to side-step issues that really do matter. Tell these people to get to work on those things that will affect people for the good of our society and our world. Those of us who still believe in “what is right” over “what is best for me” need someone to stand up and draw a line in the sand. From all that I know and have read and heard of you, you just might be the man to do it.

TK Hill
Nashville, Tenn