Before I even start, for full disclosure, I'm a Democrat. I come from a long line of proud and often loud Democrats. I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and I'm planning to vote for him again. But I live in a red state, one that Obama didn't win last time around, so I am used to having a lot of Republicans in my life. I hear people who aren't on my side argue politics all the time. Usually, I can take it; it's annoying, but people have the right to disagree. But this year I am having a hard time.
This year I am avoiding political conversations like the plague. I wear headphones nonstop at work, and I've actually been keeping away from my Republican friends (yes, I do have a few), because as soon as I hear that someone is voting for Mitt Romney, I have a hard time even looking at them, much less talking to them. The vote they cast will be a vote directly against my son, because he is gay, and that's unacceptable to me.
I want for my son what all mothers want. I want him to grow up into a happy, healthy adult. I want him to find a career where he can be successful and thrive. I want him to find someone awesome to love who loves him right back. And I can't help but think that all those things will be in jeopardy if Mitt Romney becomes the president of this country.
Mitt Romney is against equal rights. He's said it plain as day in his speeches and with his actions as governor of Massachusetts. He has given countless dollars to organizations who support "fixing" my son. His own church has conducted "therapies" with tactics too awful to even mention. If Romney has his way, all the progress toward LGBT equality that has been made in the past four years will be stripped away, and our country's constitution will be amended to guarantee that my son remains a second-class citizen. Mitt Romney believes there is something wrong with my child. To hell with him.
My child is a beautiful, incredible and wonderful human being. And there is nothing about him that needs fixing.
It hits so close to home that the other night, when my husband and I were talking about the election, my husband said, "I never thought I would be a one-issue voter, but if the question of whether or not a candidate supports gay rights comes up, and their answer is anything but 'yes, absolutely,' I can't vote for them." And I have to agree. (We were actually worried before Obama made his announcement supporting marriage equality. I am grateful he came forward.)
I wonder if any Republican candidate would have the gall to look into my baby's face and tell him that he's not good enough, that he doesn't deserve equality. And while my emotions focus on my kid, he's not the only one. In the U.S. there are 20.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 9, my son's age group. If I use a middle-of-the-road figure for what percentage of the population is LGBT (statistics vary wildly, so I'm going with 5 percent), then over 1 million kids in that age group in the U.S. are LGBT. And what does Mitt Romney want for those kids? Nothing. He won't be their president. He would never stand up and fight for their rights. He would rather that they just disappeared. To him, they are sick and wrong. They are a sin against God. They are not real citizens of this country.
So why not tell them that, Gov. Romney? Why aren't you going around and shouting your hate at classrooms of children all over this nation? Because you would look like a big, mean bully for picking on grade schoolers? Well, that's exactly what you are, because that's what you are doing, every day. Kids aren't stupid. They know there is an election coming up. They hear people sound off about it. They take the homophobia and internalize it.
We don't discuss politics a ton with our kids, but the subject definitely comes up these days. They know there is going to be an election, and they know we support Barack Obama. In one of these discussions our son asked me, "Who's the other guy?"
"His name is Mitt Romney," I answered.
"Why don't you like him?"
I paused, not really knowing what to say. In the end I decided not to lie to my kid. "Because he doesn't like gay people," I said.
"Mitt Romney doesn't like me?" The confused look on his face broke my heart. Here was his mother, whom he loves and trusts, telling him that someone he had never even met doesn't like him.
I ran my fingers through his hair. "He doesn't know how awesome you are, baby," I told him. And to save my son's feelings, I didn't add, "Because he doesn't want to know."
This election I am voting for a man who wants to be my son's president, someone who will protect not only my child's future but the futures of the approximately 4.2 million LGBT children ages 0 to 19 in this country. So I am voting for Barack Obama. And if you care about all these kids, I hope you will be voting for him, too.