Oct 15 2008

Tyler Barrick, San Francisco, CA – What about MY family?

On June 17th 2008, my partner of 6 years and myself found ourselves on the steps of city hall in San Francisco about to be married. Like any other couple on their wedding day we were excited, nervous and extremely emotional. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life! It is true when they say marriage changes things. Since that day when we vowed to be spouses for life, our relationship has grown to a much deeper level. Even our friends treat us differently. We are no longer stuck out there in the limbo of some second-class relationship status — WE ARE MARRIED.

Unfortunately, this marriage has not come without its fair share of pain. My husband’s family, very devout Mormons living in Utah, reacted worse to our marriage than when my partner came out as a gay man nearly 7 years ago. I am saddened to see how divided his family has become simply because we want to have a committed relationship, affirmed by society and protected in the eyes of the law. His parents, after first condemning our decision, have recently said, “We have to just agree to disagree on this issue.” We have been extremely tolerant of their conservative religious and political views over the years and yes, agreed to disagree on many issues. However, I’m sorry, I will never “agree to disagree” on my CIVIL RIGHT to be treated as a first class citizen like my straight counterparts and to be able to marry the person I love.

We have lived together for 5 years. We were already domestic partners in the eyes of the law. Why now that we are married is there such a problem? I would think that two adults who want to live in a monogamous, committed relationship would be the most compatible “lifestyle” the Mormon church could hope to impose on gay peoples. As I see it, the Mormon’s Church contrary efforts to pass Proposition 8 and foreclose the possibility of me and others entering state-sanctioned, socially recognized, committed relationships directly contradicts the Church’s emphasis and teachings on FAMILY. We are just two regular guys who love each other unconditionally and want to spend our lives together as a couple. We want the most stable and protected environment as we begin our own family. We and our future children deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law. I was raised in a family where I was taught to love and accept everyone for exactly who they are. I am thankful for the positive way in which my parents raised me and for the significant importance they placed on family values. My being gay does not somehow change my thoughts or ideals on raising a family of my own. I fully plan on having a family and feel very strongly about being married to my partner prior to starting my family. Do my future children not deserve to have two parents who love and cherish them, who are protected in the eyes of the law? Of course they do! The Church talks a lot about how unfortunate it would be for children to be raised in a house with two dads or two moms. The children of gay and lesbian parents are the luckiest kids in the world, because they are among the most WANTED children in the world. Yes, there will be social challenges along the way — but doesn’t the Church believe that the challenges in life build character and help us to become stronger, more Christ-like human beings?

I find it interesting the Church is asking for the government to take their side and regulate marriage when they themselves have a very long history with fighting the government in regards to marriage. What happened to separation of church and state? We are in no way asking to be let back into the Mormon church, to be married in the temple, or to impose our beliefs and values on anyone else. We only ask that the Mormon Church do the same — to not IMPOSE its beliefs on the rest of us.

I want to end by thanking my own mother for the love and support she has always given me! She has never ever made me feel like less of human being or a second class citizen for being gay. She has always loved me and cherished me and nurtured my spirit when times were hard. It breaks my heart to read the stories of families breaking up over this non-threatening issue of equality. Please accept this letter on Friday when my parents arrive at church headquarters with an open heart and listen for the message of love and acceptance they are trying so desperately to spread.

Tyler Barrick

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