My name is Rebecca. I’m a junior at St. Cloud State University. If I hadn’t made the decision to move to a college where I wouldn’t know anyone and would have to learn to make new friends, I’m not sure I would vote the same way I am today.
I grew up in a small town where diversity was almost nonexistent. I went to school with a group of peers that never learned any manners about diversity and equality. The school system tried to make us better people but with no one around to show us what our hurtful words and actions meant we grew up ignorant and mean. I played along to fit in, even if from a young age I detested racial jokes, and I had yet to learn the hurt from sexual slurs. It wasn’t until I made friends with a new girl in my school did I learn the implications of such common phrases in my vocabulary like “That’s so gay”. That girl’s mother was lesbian and for many years had been living with her partner helping raising the girl as her own. When she told me not to say the word gay like it was an insult she freely told me her mother’s sexual orientation. I was taken back but instead of letting my small town prejudice get the best of me, I stopped using gay as a derogatory term so that I could keep that new friend. This was my first experience with sexual orientation other than heterosexual.
I am from a family with heterosexual parents still married after 30 years. I was raised a Catholic. I was taught by the church that marriage was between a man and a woman. I was taught that homosexuality was a sin. Much of my extended family very much agrees with both these points and act just has my school peers did; they mock people for have a different sexual orientation than themselves. Yet with all of these people being an influence on my life the couple that I want my future relationship to be like have never, that I can remember, told me that gay marriage and relationships were wrong. I never got a parental prejudice on sexuality and I’m thankful for that.
I moved away from home for school. I met new people and made new friends. It is making these new friends that I made my decision on this amendment. College was not the fair and intelligent place I assumed it would be. Everyone has their own opinion and many freely give that opinion even if it’s hurtful or prejudice to others. There though I also saw with the unpleasantness a glow of humanity I never got back home.
I’ve never felt this oppression as much as from the “hill toppers”. These are people free to come on campus and tell those passing by to join their faith or, if they don’t fit the mold/ don’t want to, that you’re going to hell. Then there is the boy from my class who was brave enough to come out to his friends but he can’t tell his parents because he thinks he will be disowned. When I found out he was gay it didn’t make it awkward for us, actually it helped improve our friendship because he could talk about his crushes and relationships so openly. I was also pleasantly surprised that nearly all our friends never saw that boy any differently. Two vastly different experiences that I have had here have led me to the same conclusion.
Why Say No
Why did I choose no because I don’t believe that I have anymore right to declare my love through marriage just because I have a heterosexual relationship than someone who isn’t in a heterosexual relationship. My experiences over my short 21 years have allowed me to see that the need for equality in marriage is a serious problem that can be changed now. I have many friends who want the option to marry as they please and if my vote can help them I will help them here and now in this election.
As always, if you have anything to add to the conversation, just comment below!