Ignorance is not bliss

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November 30, 2006

1:34 AM

I will remember Nov. 7 for the rest of my life. The commonwealth of Virginia, the place that I’ve called home for the latter half of my life, voted on a referendum regarding my lifestyle and I lost. Virginians voted 52 to 48 in favor of the Marshall-Newman Amendment. Yes, that amendment, the one better known as the “gay marriage amendment.” Given the past few weeks to think it over, though, I don’t think I’ll remember that day simply because my lifestyle lost in referendum, but because of the mistakes I made that day.

p. My first mistake: I had the hope that Virginians would move past their homophobia. It’s been hard for me to dress it up differently, not take it personally and approach it from a mature, rational point. Yes, I know that Virginians have traditionally voted conservatively. Yes, I know that I probably shouldn’t have expected Virginians to vote “no,” but I did. I had hoped that just maybe Virginians weren’t the hateful people that we’re known to be. I’m left feeling hurt and angry. I’m left with little else but one big question: Why am I so terrifying?

p. And all I get is silence from a mass of bigots.

p. This was my second mistake: I expected Virginians to grasp how this poorly-crafted piece of so-called legislation would harm those people who aren’t even involved in the scramble to “protect” marriage. I wonder if people read the last three sentences, the three sentences that actually took rights away from non-married, heterosexual Virginians. There are hundreds of thousands of heterosexual Virginians who aren’t married. Where will their protection from domestic violence go? Out the window. What will happen to these people’s children? Who knows. Where will their hospital visitation rights go? Down the drain. Where will their ability to formulate contracts that, as the Marshall-Newman Amendment says, “intend to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effects of marriage” go? In the trash. I’m left with another question: What will happen to these people?

p. And all I get is silence from a mass of ignorant voters.

p. The Marshall-Newman amendment has passed. I hope you know what that means. Our Bill of Rights now contains institutionalized discrimination and I’m desperately fumbling around in an effort to be the bigger person. I’m left with my final question: Where do we go from here?

p. And suddenly I don’t have silence. I have a voice and it’s not just my own. It’s a symphony of voices that blend together to form the voice that says, “You know what, Virginia? We won’t take this.” I’m taking steps, albeit small ones, to not be angry. I’m taking steps in the direction of trying to understand from where my opposition is coming. I’m taking steps to use my voice for the betterment of all Virginians. I will work with Equality Virginia, I will build coalitions with sympathetic Virginians and I will work to fight bigotry and homophobia throughout the commonwealth.

p. Yes, my lifestyle lost in referendum, but that’s not just it anymore. I am a gay man, I am an abused domestic partner, I am a child without a stable home, I am the person who can’t visit my friend who’s dying in the ICU and I will fight this.

p. __Nathaniel Amos is a junior at the College. His views do not necessarily represent those of The Flat Hat.__

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