We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (The Declaration of Independence)
"Rise up!" I say to you. "All true Americans! Rise up! All who believe in equality, in fairness, in liberty -- for each and every living soul -- you who are truly American, rise up!"
I'm sick and tired of being "less than," and I refuse to be treated that way any longer.
I'm sick of political parties wrapping the mantle of patriotism around themselves, insisting that only they are the true patriots. They have perpetuated the falsehood that to be anything less than ultraconservative means to be anti-U.S.A., that to question and criticize policies is to be a traitor, that to be an American means including "God" in the mix, even though the Founding Fathers' intent was for a clear separation of church and state. They have insinuated that to be a true patriot, to be American, one must accept the entire conservative mantra, including the belief that life begins at the very instant of conception, that women are inherently inferior to men, that gays should simply live a celibate, quiet life, that transgender people should be able to be fired on a whim, that our environment doesn't need saving, and that all Muslims should be immediately deported. And, hey, while we're at it, why not deport all non-whites? They're only immigrants, right? Not real Americans.
While one would think that a cursory glance at the Declaration of Independence would be enough to educate even the dimmest among us, in present-day America these "unalienable" and "self-evident" rights are anything but.
Well, I am an American, and I want to take that f@$&ng mantle back.
I am an American. I believe with all my heart that everyone deserves to be treated equally.
I am an American, yet my family is not entitled to more than 1,138 federal rights that married heterosexual families receive (not to mention state rights).
I am an American. I believe it is our duty to fight for what our Founding Fathers intended and not settle for the America that has been hijacked.
Those who fight against equality are clearly not following the guidelines our Founding Fathers set forth. It is they who do not deserve the mantle of patriotism, and in my eyes they are not Americans.
Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown, you are purveyors of lies and fear and work diligently on behalf of bigotry. You are not Americans. Michele Bachmann and hubby Marcus, you believe gays are Satanic barbarians and need to be disciplined. You are not Americans. Tony Perkins, you head a recognized hate group, and no matter how many flag pins you wear, you are not an American. Rick Santorum, I would never have sex with my kids or my dog and have to wonder why those things would cross your mind. Rick, you may well be a "frothy mix," but you are not an American.
In the U.S. we have a history of rooting for the underdog, because we know, in our hearts, that that underdog could be any one of us. We all need to work together, to lift each other up, and ensure that not one person is treated differently under our laws.
If you do not agree that equal treatment under the law applies to everyone, you are not an American.
If you do not support the right of transgender people to hold a job or have housing, you are not an American.
If you support corporate greed over the protection of our Earth, you are not an American.
If you do not support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, you are not an American.
If you do not support the right of a woman and her doctor to determine her best health-care option, you are not an American.
If you do not support an overhaul of our drug-enforcement laws, which discriminate against the lowest classes of society, you are not an American.
If you do not support marriage equality, you are not an American.
Quite frankly, fellow citizens, I don't care if you like me. Just give me the same legal rights as everyone else. No more, no less.
And before I hear any whining from the conservatives that I am stomping on religious liberties, let's be clear about that: I fully support your right to religious freedom, your right of free speech, and your right to be as hateful as you like in the name of Jesus Christ. I fully support you. Go shout from the rooftops that I am going to Hell. That is your right. Just give me mine.
I am a passionate, progressive, pro-choice, artistic, forward-thinking, optimistic yet sometimes sarcastic, spirit-seeking, showtune-singing, equality-supporting, Mary-Chapin-Carpenter-loving gay dad. And I am an American.
Stand up for freedom, Americans! Rise up for justice. And light some f@$&ng fireworks.
An earlier version of this piece appeared on KerganEdwards-Stout.com.