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And Happy New Year

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Last year, Americans witnessed once unimaginable progress. From the Supreme Court's decision striking down a key part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, to the number of conservatives who joined the movement for the freedom to marry, to the increase -- up to 17 -- in the number of states permitting all couples to marry, our nation made great strides on the road to LGBT equality.

But even within the borders of equality states -- and across the country, the vestiges of laws that denigrate, demean, and degrade, of course, remain. For each legal victory, there are still far too many personal defeats for LGBT Americans.

Here is one such reminder, an e-mail conceived for, sent to, and received by a gay brother-in-law. While the right of parents to decide who interacts with, and how to raise, their children is beyond doubt, the tenor, tone, and even situation that triggered the e-mail struck me -- and underscored yet again how far we must go to achieve the more just, more equal, and more accepting society that everyone deserves.

The names and any information that could identify the subjects have been altered. The rest of this e-mail remains the same.

Dear Mitch-

I wish I didn't have to write this but unfortunately if I don't, it will fester in me.

Let me first state I do not wish to hurt anyone; first and foremost my family. My children are my world and it is my responsibility and right to protect them. That is my sole purpose here and if it offends, then so be it. My family is not going to be forced into a role of accepting an open alternative lifestyle. Regardless if that lifestyle is lived by their Uncle Mitch.

I'm quite certain everyone understands my personal convictions and feelings on homosexual lifestyles. However, since it is my family that I am head of and responsible for, I elect to inform you that I have no intentions of permitting my children to congregate with homosexual company. I am not stating we are not willing to spend time with you Mitch. I am merely stating at the present time, we are not comfortable sharing company with any significant other you may adopt of the same sex.

I did not appreciate being among this very thing on New Year's at your aunt and uncle's and frankly, I was offended. One might say that I am offending one with this email and that might be true but I am the one with small children. I am the one with small minds that ask questions on topics I wish for their adult minds to weigh out on their own time; not at the timing and poor choice of their Uncle.

Mitch if this lifestyle is what makes you happy then congratulations on your happiness. We do not share your private time, nor wish to impose ourselves on your company and I do not think it is asking too much to extend that same respect to us. We are not comfortable keeping company in homosexual relationships. We were not raised around it, it is not acceptable to me and as long as my children are small they will be shielded from it. Regardless of whom it may offend.

Perhaps I should have been more direct about it. Perhaps I should have spoken up sooner and put it no uncertain terms, but I tried to spare feelings and I was the offended party and won't be again. Amanda tried to reach out to explain our stance and it was returned with a unnecessary remark that you were "sorry for not being normal" like her. We didn't insist you change or be different, just that you would respect our wishes as parents of your nephews and nieces. I am not trying to throw stones and I included your Mom so it can not be taking out of context, nor can it be ignored. I intend to give your Dad a copy of this letter as well.

You see Mitch I am a Father and a Husband, with responsibilities that you don't have, nor understand at this moment in your life. It is difficult to make such a strong stand with feelings on the line with you and your Parents and Sister. However this is my family, and I can live without any outside association from either side of our families, if it means preserving a wholesome upbringing in my children. If you can't see or understand that, then I am afraid that is something you will need to workout on your own. It is not up for discussion, debate or dismissal. I say that with a reminder that you personally are welcome to spend family time with us. Your significant other is not welcome. There really is no other way to say it and not be as forthcoming as I aim to be.

I understand if this angers you and if it has, I hope you get over it. It is not my goal to hurt you but try to put yourself in my shoes and have your children ask questions their fragile minds couldn't possibly begin to understand. I am removing the opportunity for the confusion and deviant ideas that lifestyle promotes. I really have nothing more to say, and honestly, I have no interest in a response defending your point. I merely would ask if you ever plan to make an appearance at a family function, give your Sister and I the respect to know in advance if you are going solo or with offensive company so that we may elect to miss that particular engagement.

Take Care,
Robert