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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Why I Can’t Support Republicans.











It’s Personal!

People I know, both friends and family, often comment as to why I hate Trump and most members of the Republican party, especially after seeing some of my posts on Facebook and Twitter. I tell them that it is personal. I grew up in a middle class family, when the middle class actually lived a quite comfortable life. My father was a machinist and a labor union member who had always supported Democrats, as they supported labor unions and the middle class. The town I lived in was very conservative, very Republican, very white and very protestant. I can remember people saying very proudly “we only have 37 Negroes in our town”. I could never see why it was important to say or even know that, until I got older. I grew up with Nelson Rockefeller as governor and I can remember that my parents actually liked him. Looking back at what he accomplished as governor I would say that according to today’s standards he would be considered a moderate or even liberal Republican. Even though he was wholeheartedly supported by the wealthy, he took care of the poor and middle class. He expanded the State University of New York, established Medicaid and fought for civil rights. He also was an early supporter of equal rights for women and gay rights, way before they became popular as important social issues. Along with the good life that many people of New York enjoyed came the higher taxes, which somehow were blamed on Democrats years later.

It’s Becoming About Me!

When I was in high school I was energized by the campaign of John F. Kennedy and became aware of the social injustices that many people in our country were suffering from. Needless to say I was deeply affected by his assassination, but I never lost the compassion for fighting for civil and human rights. It was around the time I was in college that I realized that my strong emotions surrounding civil rights not only centered around the rights of others, but also around my own rights. It was at this time I began to realize that I was gay and I was actually fighting for my own rights!

Then Comes Reagan!

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I went on to graduate from college and finally grad school receiving a master’s degree, in hopes of working in the mental health field. I survived the craziness of the Nixon era and the Vietnam War, which I was against, but I still supported those who fought in it. I lost a few friends in the war and saw the suffering of others who came back alive, but were severely damaged, either physically or emotionally. Because of my severe asthma and allergies I was not allowed to serve. Years later I wished I had. I remember seeing kids my age who were also exempt from serving, but they were rich, white and connected. To me the war was a rich old white guys war fought by poor disadvantage young kids with little or no future! I can still remember Watergate and the day Nixon resigned in disgrace. That was a time when both parties valued the country over their party. It’s hard to believe that the Republican party of then is the same party today. I started to view the Republican party as a party of old rich white guys who loved wars, as long as us poor young guys fought them. In 1980 Ronald Reagan, the Conservative idol of the Republican party was elected President. For me that’s when this country started going downhill.
One of the first things Reagan did was to defund Community Mental Health Clinics, something that has had dire consequences even until today. Much needed mental health services were no longer available to the thousands of people suffering from mental illness. With the closing of many of these clinics hundreds, if not thousands of mental health workers were out of jobs and thousands of suffering people were forced into the streets without a glimmer of hope. I was one of those mental health workers who had a hard time finding work in my chosen field, thanks to Republicans. With Regean’s plan to limit government came the Republicans’ attempt to force government into the lives of America’s citizenry. This was when I, as a gay person, realized that my government was trying to limit my rights.
During Reagan’s campaign Reagan stated “My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I”. There were no civil rights legislation supporting the LGBTQ community during all eight years of Reagan’s tenure! He has also been criticized for ignoring and purposely failing to fund programs aimed at the growing AIDS epidemic which eventually cost thousand of lives!

I Begin to Come Out!

I slowly started to accept myself as being gay and at the same time I started to learn that being a gay person I could be treated differently. I learned that as a gay person I could not marry a person of the same sex. I learned that if I was in a relationship I could not legally name my partner as my beneficiary upon my death. I learned that I could be fired from my job, if my employer knew I was gay, and there was nothing I could do about it. I learned that if I were seriously ill in the hospital, my partner or significant other could be prevented from visiting me. I learned, from experience, that if I was beaten or the victim of a crime the police would do nothing. I learned that I could even be killed and little or nothing would be done. I learned that I could be denied an apartment, or service in a store or restaurant, simply because I was thought to be gay. Hell,this is still happening today, as my husband and I were not allowed to adopt a dog because we were not a family with children! I realized that in some states I could be arrested for supposedly having sex with another male in the privacy of my own home. So much for keeping the government out of our lives, right Reagan Republicans?

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One would think that the end of this story is “and we lived happily ever after”, but it’s not.

Now I am older and perhaps somewhat wiser, but I haven’t softened. I have witnessed and taken part in the continuing gay rights movement. I have seen the often bitter battle for the legalization of same-sex marriage and I have seen the Supreme Court ruling which made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states. Because of that ruling, which stated that the US government cannot deny me, in a gay relationship, the same rights granted to heterosexual couples in regards to federal benefits, including immigration rights, I was able to marry my partner and he was able to receive a green card and just recently US citizenship. One would think that the end of this story is “and we lived happily ever after”, but it’s not. When gay marriage was made legal the religious right declared that gay marriage would destroy the institution of marriage and negate their freedom of religion and they have worked steadfastly to rescind gay rights, abolish gay marriage and legislate religious liberty laws that in essence would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community and eventually others not acceptable to the religious right. Even though the fears of of the destruction of traditional marriage have never materialized and society has not changed, except for maybe more acceptance of same-sex marriage by the general population, the religious right has double down on their efforts to attack gay rights and gay marriage, all led by the Republican party. It is odd that the very religious right that has attacked the LGBTQ community as immoral has rallied behind a thrice married, misogynist, racist man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and even was in the company of prostitutes while his wife was nursing his newly born son, because he promised to appoint judges to the courts that would advance the interests of the Christian right! That man is the Republican President of our country! Soon that man will deliver the savior to the Religious right in the name of Brett Kavanaugh. In my article, “Why Does the Christian Right want Kavanaugh?I explain how detrimental this is to me and other gay people, as well as women and other minorities.
So when I am asked why I don’t vote Republican I explain why it is personal. I am no longer able to accept the bullshit from Republicans talking about how the Democrats raise taxes and force their views on people, while the Republicans fight for the wealthy rich and value corporations over individuals, while catering to the bigoted religious right by attacking me and those like me, just to solidify their minority base. When my friends tell me they are voting Republican, I simply tell them that are in essence voting for people who want to take my rights away, and if my marriage is made null and void and I am returned to a second class citizen, they are to blame. That’s why I can’t support Republicans!


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