Lets get this clear: for the longest time my position on gay marriage was one of apathy. I always felt I did not need the acceptance of religion or the approval of churchgoers when it came to the ceremonial act of commitment in front of a group of witnesses to the man I loved. But in time I realized this was not all about the acceptance of the love between two men. In time the issue became a simple one: we are all equals under our constitution and we all have equals rights. So why should my partner and I settle for less and not enjoy the same perks and responsibilities given by marriage that my parents, siblings, neighbors and co-workers are able to enjoy? When I realized I was being treated as a lesser citizen, I realized I needed to speak up and I became involved in the pursuit of marriage equality. I started attending and celebrating the ceremonial commitments of many of my gay friends, but more as a political statement, because really deep in my heart I knew it was all a lie. Those two newlyweds would never be treated under the law, equally, as the rest of the citizens of the union. I became active in local politics campaigning, providing professional services and allowing the use of my contacts and network to support the election of candidates that were 'friends' of the gay community.
But I was new to the city and soon I became aware of the corruption and accepted hypocrisy in Chicago politics. I witnessed the hand waving of my Congressman Luis Gutierrez and other Puerto Rican elected officials at every gay pride parade. Of the two times I had the opportunity to shake hands with ex-governor and now inmate Blagojevich. The first time was when he came up to me to chat while awaiting the kick off of the Chicago gay pride parade. I listened to elected officials' passionate speeches at rallies against hate and bullying. Along with other colleagues and community activists I even traveled with city council members, state senators and representatives across the country to denounce hate crimes and the horrible killing of Jorge Steven Mercado back in my homeland in Puerto Rico. A commonality along all these instances was the presence of press and media that allowed politicians access to the masses. Where are the elected officials I worked hard to elect now that the people of Illinois, my colleagues and I request to be treated equally under the marriage act? Were all their appearances in events and speeches at rallies against hate a mere photo opportunity? Why now do not we see our Puerto Rican/Latino congressman, senators and representatives in front of the camera when Illinois debates making marriage a matter of giving equal rights to all their citizens? Why now when I call and write to them to ask for their support and stand up for my rights are there no responses to calls or even to an email?
We know that most Chicago politicians truly believe that their public service is to trade for favors. In my case I am not expecting them to return a campaign favor. I am asking my Puerto Rican/Latino elected officials to simply stand up and take a clear posture on equal rights -- are you in favor or against. It is ok if you are against marriage equality -- like my State Representative Luis Arroyo of the IL 3rd District who finally had the guts to say no to equality after playing games of hide and seek with me and many of his constituents who visited his office in an effort to meet and discuss his position. Even when Arroyo did not stand up and let me know directly, at least he shared his message via his chief of staff and let the people of his district and Illinois know that he doesn't believe I should have equals rights and that I am a lesser person. Now I ask the same to the rest of Chicago's Puerto Rican/Latino elected officials. Just be honest and let me know if you stand with Luis Arroyo and believe that church and special interests have a say and should determine if I am a full citizen or not. If not, I ask you to stand up in front of the cameras you love, uphold our constitution and do not stay in silence.