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Intolerance, Freedom and Our Future

It is late and I am struggling with words.

How does one find a way to explain?

Explain what, you may ask.

Explain how one man’s intolerance harms another. How one woman’s intolerance harms another.

Door County is a beautiful place. It is a small community where everyone works hard. The drive to work hard may come from the belief that there will one day be an accumulation of riches. However, for most of us, it is a drive to make our world a better place.

May brings Mother’s Day and June, Father’s Day. Do we not all work to honor those who came before us? Is it not our individual responsibility to move forward and to do anything we can to build a better world? To take the building blocks that our forefathers laid down and build upon them?

It is easy to mock idealism. It is easy to say, “That can’t be done.” Can we stop for a moment and think about what is possible?

We are all on this earth for a brief moment in time. We all will be ultimately judged on who we are and how we treat our neighbors, our friends and those who may think differently than we do.

My mother’s father did not attend college. He finished eighth grade. He and my grandmother worked hard in the farm fields and at home so their children could go to college. Their faith moved them forward. Their faith gave them hope that the world could be better. My mother is the fourth generation in the United States. She is the first generation to go to college. She works hard.

My father’s great-great-great grandfather served in the United States Congress. My father’s father was the fourth generation to go to college.

What does any of that have to do with anything?

My father’s father enlisted in World War One in 1917. He lied about his age so he could go to the war to end all wars. My mother shook Martin Luther King Jr.’s hand and marched in honor of him. She believes that we are all equal. She believes that our world can be better and that we can be better. So what?

Ultimately, history judges us for what we leave behind.

We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We live in the land of possibility. We live in a country where you are free to practice any religion free of any persecution. We live in a land where we are free to be who we want to be.

The point?

I watched a friend experience every emotion over the course of the past week: jubilation…anxiety…anger…sadness. How, you ask?

Jubilation – Our state justice system acknowledged that his beliefs and love could not be controlled or discriminated against.

Anxiety – He could marry the man he loved, legally, and free of judgment or persecution.

Anger – Our state found a way to say, “No, you can’t sanctify your love in our state.”

Sadness – Our state found a way to say, “No, you can’t sanctify your love in our state.”

Yes, some believe it is wrong for one man to love another man or a woman to love another woman. We do, however, live in a country where you are able to have those beliefs free of persecution. Free of discrimination. We also live in a country that was founded on the idea that you can follow your own beliefs, you can practice your own faith and you have the right to pursue your own happiness.

No one has the right to tell someone who they love or how they love them. This is the United States of America. This is the land of opportunity. This is the land of the free.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” In honor of my mother, in honor of my father and in honor of everyone who came before them – I can no longer be silent on this issue. We must, as a society, as a community, as a country find a way to embrace those who are different from us. We must as a society, as a community, as a country find a way to acknowledge and respect those who practice different beliefs than our own. We must respect our fellow man. We must not judge them for who we think they should be, we should instead respect them for who they are.

It is time for us to move forward. No country, no state, no county, no town can set laws that restrict the love of any man, woman or child.

This matters and it matters now. We, as citizens of the United States, cannot be silent when one man’s rights are tread upon. It is time for the human race to move forward. It is time for us to do the right thing.

It is time for the state of Wisconsin to allow one man to marry another man and for one woman to marry another woman.

Every man and every woman has the right to true happiness.