Line drawn


There has been a lot of talk lately in the blogosphere about writers being careful with their words, mostly in regards to responding to bad reviews and criticism, and about not getting dragged into idiotic flame wars. I myself wrote about the subject nearly two years ago. Getting involved with that stuff makes you look small and petty, and it can alienate readers. You just don’t do it.

Similarly, unless you’re writing for a very specific demographic, it isn’t a good idea to wear your politics on your public sleeve. Although I touch on sticky moral and political issues when I write, that’s never the focus of any of my work, nor do I write to give my political views a forum. I like to study and shine a spotlight on the human condition through my characters when I write, and because some of those sticky moral and political issues affect my characters, they sometimes share that spotlight. I don’t expound on those issues here on the blog, or on Facebook or Twitter, to any great extent, though, because I want my characters and their stories to be accessible to everybody, regardless of political or religious creed. That’s not possible if my political views are so well known that they color my work in Red or Blue.

With me so far, yes? Okay. Because here comes the “however…”.

However, when it comes to gay rights (or Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Trangender rights, to be more specific), I’m not gonna keep my mouth shut. Ever. Because it isn’t a political issue. It’s not Red or Blue, liberal or conservative. It’s a matter of human rights, pure and simple. So when I read an article like this, you’d better believe I’m going to speak out. And if that costs me some readers, so be it.

Yesterday, Utah state representative LaVar Christensen introduced HB 270 – Family Policy:

This bill states, as the public policy of Utah, that a family, consisting of a legally and lawfully married man and woman and their children, is the fundamental unit of society; and requires that publicly funded social programs, government services, laws, and regulations designed to support families be carefully scrutinized to ensure that they promote the family.

It further states:

Families anchored by both a father and a mother, fidelity within marriage, and enduring devotion to the covenants and responsibilities of marriage are the desired norm.

(bold face type mine)

I was raised in a family that was outside what Mr. Christensen considers “the desired norm”. My parents split up when I was five and a few years later my mother began a relationship with a woman who soon after moved in with us. It was a pretty typical parent and step-parent/child relationship. There were family vacations and holidays, help with homework and teenage rebellion. Rewards and punishments, discipline and encouragement. Although my mother and her partner both worked hard, we frequently struggled financially.

My two younger brothers and I were held to high standards, personally and academically, yet we were ultimately accepted and loved for the individuals we were. We were part of a rather boisterous extended family of cousins and aunts and grandparents that was just as supportive and just as accepting. The three of us now contribute to the well-being of society through our respective careers (writer, teacher, journalist), by demonstrating integrity in our personal lives, and by showing unconditional love to our family and friends.

But I still can’t help but think that it would have felt more like a family if my mother and her partner had been able to get married years ago. If I had been able to introduce them as “my mom and step-mom”. If my mother hadn’t had that constant, nagging fear: who will raise my kids if something happens to me?

To Mr. Christensen, and other legislators  who would follow his lead, I have this to say: You have every right to believe homosexuality is a sin. You have every right to believe that marriage between anyone but one man and one woman is wrong. You can preach it to your congregations, you can teach it to your children, you can pray about it to your god. But you don’t have the right to legislate that belief. You have had your grubby, inky, bigoted paws in my family’s life for far too long. I will not rest until you’re made to take them out.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

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