11/04/2014 02:08 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

I Am a Gay Navy SEAL Pushing for Equality in Red States

My son Ethan is a great kid. Like most fathers, we want to see him grow into a capable and responsible man. It's really the little things that matter most. How he sees us handle day-to-day difficulties, struggles, and even how we deal with our accomplishments. Nerf gun battles happen on occasion after dinner. These aren't your typical Nerf wars either. They are epic battles to which the conqueror claims bragging rights for the night. Being a former Navy Seal, and Jason being a former police sergeant, you would think a 13-year-old boy wouldn't stand a chance. Truth is, we both have enjoyed our fare share of humble pie. Tough as it is to admit, Ethan has gotten the better of us on multiple occasions. It actually pleases me though; because it was something we taught him how to do. We taught him how to make good room entries, avoid fatal funnels, and quickly identify potential threats.

Being a father, you're constantly worried about the world in which your children are going to live. You want to prepare them for the difficulties they are going to face, and you want to do your small part to make the world a little less difficult for them when you leave. We all have personal goals, and aside from my desire to be a good father- I have a big one. I want to live my life as an example to other people. This single goal literally has the power to change the people around us.

Like most gay men in America, I get really frustrated when I hear about religious extremists, politicians, or organizations criticizing equality. I remember very clearly what my Facebook feed looked like after Phil Robertson's, or Chick-Fil-A's anti gay comments. It was very polarized. My initial thought was to lash out in anger, which in turn would have only distanced myself from the people who have opposing views.

I live in Alabama, and as most people know the south can be a very conservative place. Aside from God's love, my family is the principal source of my happiness. Like many of the SEALs I have worked with, I am willing to fight and die to protect that. Unfortunately, this state does not recognize my family, a fact that is beyond disheartening.

Respect is an important step to understanding. Many people feel that my life is immoral or sinful. Believe it or not, I can respect that. You have a right to your political or religious beliefs; a right that my brothers, and our forefathers paid for with their lives. I know first hand how valuable our faith, families, and freedoms are. I proudly helped fight for those liberties, but we are not afforded the same protection under the law that other American families have. That is the chilling reality many devoted families live with.

I love my family and the best way I know how to change my situation is to try and live my life as an example, much in the way that I try to be an example to my son. It's my hope that through this objective I am able to disarm the resentment of at least one hyper-conservative, thus freeing that person to take that crucial step towards respect. I have to believe that benefits us all.