March 23, 2004,
Dear Senator and Representative,
It is with great sadness that I write this letter to you today. There was a time when I believed as you do about the topic of homosexuality. I believed it to be the "sin above all sins." I took the words in the Bible literally, and condemned homosexuals in my heart and to their face. I didn't bother to study the Scriptures further, and wonder why it was a sin to be a homosexual, but it wasn't a sin to cut your sideburns or your beard, or wear clothing made of mixed cloth, or do work on the "Sabbath."
Those beliefs, Senator, cost me the life of my daughter, Anna. She hung herself from the bar of her closet in her garden level apartment on February 28, 1997. She hung for 15 hours before anyone found her. She left no note. Only, she had written me a letter 6 months earlier shutting me out of her life because I had been cruel, and had done "colossal damage" to her soul, as her letter put it. She was right. I judged everything about her on the basis of her homosexuality. Of course, this was complicated by the fact that both of us were (I still am) Christ-followers, and the "church" had taught me "well." Homosexuality was the sin above all sins.
Anna was 29 when she died. She was a beautiful girl with many talents. She was a Master's Degree educated Social Worker, and she wrote, sang, and accompanied herself on the piano singing the many songs that were so a part of her painful journey.
Since Anna's death, my husband and I have had to take a long, hard look at the topic of homosexuality. We have had many lengthy conversations with people on both sides of "the issue." No one coerced us to change our beliefs. God, Himself, did that. We are now strong advocates for GLBT people. We do not approve of promiscuity, but we firmly believe that any individual alive should be allowed to love whom he or she loves, be married to whomever they love, and live together in a state of Holy Matrimony.
Recently, I became aware of a little known fact. Did you know that the first thousand years the church was in existence, marriages were not allowed to take place in the church? It was strictly a civil ceremony-with nothing spiritual about it.
As for amending the Constitution of the United States to exclude gay couples from marrying one another, I am deeply puzzled. Why is the Constitution of the United States of America getting involved in who can marry who? I am fully aware of what has gone on in Massachusetts, as well as San Francisco and Portland, OR. My personal belief is that this is a political power play by our President so that he may continue to receive campaign funds from the "Religious Right." I'm sure you know who they are.
My husband and I have dear dear friends who live in Massachusetts, and who only long to have the same rights and privileges as do heterosexual couples. They do not want "special" rights, just the same rights.
My prayer for you, as you govern our country is this: What if you had a gay son or a lesbian daughter? Would you do as I did, and not love that child unconditionally? I pray not. Would you not support your child in every way conceivably possible, to ensure the very life of that child of yours? Would you want your child to "hide" from you that which makes him or her the most happy?
I beg you to consider your vote. Do you know that more than half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce?
Do you know any gay couples who have been together 20 or 30 years, and when one of them dies, the other has absolutely no rights at all? Have you seen the movie, "If These Walls Could Talk?"
Did you watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night, March 21? Did you "hear" the entire program including Andy Rooney's comments at the end?
What is it that we as Americans are so trying to "hide" that we have to pick on GLBT people and make them our "fall guys?"
I pray you never have to experience the suicide of one of your children or grandchildren. I assure you, you may not live through it, as I have "almost" not lived through it.
Please consider my words.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to hearing from you. Remember, the leading cause of death in gay teenagers is suicide. Do you want to believe that the proposed Amendment to the Constitution will lower that statistic?
Mary Lou Wallner
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