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Randi Reitan

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This Mom is Heading to the National Equality March

Posted: 09/09/09 06:50 PM ET

Early one morning as I was running out to grab our newspaper, I noticed something written on the end of our driveway. Our youngest child, Jacob, was in high school so I figured some of his friends were having fun with him. As I came closer I saw just one word: FAG. I froze for a moment at the sight of that word. I started to cry and ran back in to get a bucket of water to wash it away before Jacob left for school.

Jacob had told us he was gay a few months before but he still was not out to his friends and the community. My first thought was that people must be guessing that he is gay and the discrimination and hatred I had feared was now happening. I didn't know who to talk to or where to seek help in understanding all that Jacob would face. I didn't know one gay person who was out who could help us navigate this new journey. At that moment, I felt so afraid and alone.

Today that moment seems a world away. Today I am strong and ready to take on the agents of fear and hate and that is why I am passionate about going to Washington, D.C. to stand with the National Equality March on October 10th and 11th. At this march people from all walks of life, from all corners of this nation will come together to demand full equality for LGBT people in all matters of civil law. We will stand against the hatred, the inequality and untruths the gay community faces every day. We will stand together in love and in hope that our nation will live out its ideals of freedom and equality for all.

My heart gets excited as I imagine the Mall filling with people yearning to see the day of full equality. People who, like me, draw courage both from the justness of our cause and from the growing numbers who believe as we believe. This is not a battle one person or one family or one advocacy group can fight on their own. We need to all come together to create a force of courage and love to help change the mindset of a whole nation.

It is this courage that I would like to share with you in Washington on that day. As I write this, I know that there are other parents out there who are afraid for their own gay children, as I once was. Afraid not only of the physical harm and harassment but also afraid for their child's well being in a society where they are second class citizens. Our gay children cannot serve their country unless they live a lie. They are denied the gifts and benefits of marriage. They are second class citizens in a thousand ways.

If you come in October, you will find the National Equality March an unforgettable experience. To stand with thousands of people all working for equality will fill your heart and give you courage like nothing else can. You will remember those days all your life, and you will never be alone again in the struggle for your child's equality.

I encourage all parents to set aside their fears, buy a plane ticket, and join us on the Mall for the National Equality March. Do it for your child, do it for you, do it for our country.