Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

An Open Letter to Judge Orlando Garcia

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February 28, 2014

Thank you. I don’t even think a thank you can express a fraction of how I’m feeling. It’s a kind of I want to run up to you and give you a long embracing hug as I cry in your shoulder kind of thank you. I’ve been a Texas southern boy my entire life. No, a gay Texas boy and I never thought in my young life that I would live to see today. As I see other states pass sweeping legislation granting a right to love, I never thought Texas would be nearing equality.

I remember last summer when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. I was in my accounting lecture and was browsing through my Facebook feed on one of our breaks. Status upon status of the news and I grabbed all my belongings and stormed out of the classroom. I ran upstairs to a quiet study room, fell to the floor, and cried. I cried because the first time ever, I felt like a person. I felt like I existed. I think so many queer folks that day shared a similar experience that straight people will never understand. Something so small like a right to marry the person we love meant so much to us.

The prop 8 ruling soon followed that and I immediately texted my best friend in California. I was so happy for him. As I was congratulating my friend on his new rights, a part of me still felt dissatisfied because I knew Texas had a long way to go before reaching that point of equality. It’s always been strange to me because I was born and raised in Houston where Annise Parker, an open and out lesbian, is proudly the mayor of my hometown. Don’t get me wrong, I love being from Texas and the South. I’ve lived in three Texas cities, am a proud Texas Longhorn, and am pretty much as Texan as you can get. We have that comforting southern hospitality you can’t get anywhere else. We are a loving community and we have a hell of a personality. And I will honestly never stop saying y’all. It just frustrates me that such a big state with such a loving comfort in its people can spew such hate in its laws.

However, thanks to you Judge Garcia, queers of Texas can be a little more at ease and breathe a sigh of relief. We don’t have to always look over our shoulders whenever we leave the house or be as hesitant to hold our partners hand in public. Of course there are still people and politicians, the same ones who pass amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman, who have filed an appeal of this decision. If your decision is repealed, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised, but your act alone means so much to the community. It’s comforting to know that there are people from our state that love us just the same and have our backs.

This isn’t the end of our fight though. We’ve won a battle, but not the war. Assimilation doesn’t necessarily always mean equality. We are still long strides from it, but granting my future partner and I the right to be recognized as citizens of the state and instilling that hope is a pretty good place to start. I hope that Texas will eventually get where it needs to be in terms of supporting its citizens from all walks of life. I want Texas to redefine itself not as a conservative red state with backward laws and policies. If anything, I want other states to realize that if big ‘ol Texas can recognize the rights of queer folks, then they sure as hell can too.

I could have written a letter to opponents of your ruling and berated them for their ignorance, but I just don’t think enough gratitude is given for the warriors in our lives. We don’t show enough appreciation for those who speak up for us when we lack a voice. So again, I can’t say it enough, but thank you.

With all my love,
A southern, gay, Texas boy.

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