Sept. 11, 2001, a man stands by a television at work. Horrific images flash across the screen and the only thing he can think about was his spouse, who went to work earlier that day in one of the two towers that were now on fire.
He rushed home, picking up his children along the way. Glued to the television, it wasn’t until three days went by that he finally realized his spouse of 20 years was one of over 3,000 lives lost. His life could never be the same.
He and his spouse were not married, though they had lived together monogamously for 20 years. They adopted two children, bought two cars and a house together. Life could not seem more perfect. Then the appalling events of 9-11 happened.
He tried taking time off of work to mourn the loss of his loved one but, because they were not married, he was not allowed to. He called in sick to work to attend the funeral, took vacation time to get therapy, but there wasn’t enough vacation time and sick time for him. He lost his job.
During this time, his children were taken away from him. When they adopted their children, only one name could be put on the birth certificate. The name was that of his late spouse. Legally, the children’s only parent was considered dead and had to be taken away from a father they had known for over 10 years.
He was not able to receive federal or state aid because they were not married and had no income. He couldn’t afford car payments or house payments. His car was repossessed and his house was going into foreclosure. In a matter of three months, this man had lost his best friend and lover of 20 years, his children, his job, his house and his car.
He committed suicide on Christmas Eve of 2001.
What did this do to the children? To the families? How could something like this be allowed to happen? Why didn’t they just get married? How could something like this be allowed to happen? Does this thing go on in America all the time? How could something like this be allowed to happen?
They were gay.
Everyday in this country, gay, lesbian, bisexual and, dare I say it, transgendered people face not only verbal and physical intimidation, harassment and violence, they face situations much like the one I described.
They are forced to drag their children into courtrooms to provide testimony for their parents over and over again. They have people combing through every inch of their house looking for some reason to remove these children from their home.
They are forced out of their houses after their partners die, refused hospital visitation rights and turned away from funerals at the discretion of a family that may not have spoken a single word to the deceased for 20 years.
They fight and die for a country that promises freedom and civil liberties and then discharges them once their life is no longer needed, only to have military benefits that they counted on taken away from them. We live in a country that they fear living in.
We live in a country that fosters a belief that led to the death of Matt Shepard. Our judicial system released the murderer of Harvey Milk after four years of imprisonment. They say it was because he ate too many Twinkies. How can we stop these injustices?
Next week is Transgender, Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Awareness Days (T’B-GLAD). Activities will be going on all week. You can find out more by visiting the GLBT Student Services website at www.colostate.edu/depts/glbtss. Get educated. Get involved. Get loud.
Sadly, there are too many voices in this country that are being silenced, especially now. Let your voice be heard for a people that have a very little voice. Become an ally, become a friend, and stop the injustice going on in our own country.