A simple way to help

Voting against the marriage amendment connects a more egalitarian community.

I just finished my eighth week as a middle school teacher at a Title I school in Denver, Colo., after graduating from the University of Minnesota this past spring with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. I walked in on my first day nauseous, scared and elated. I knew I would like my kids. I knew they would change me. I knew I would work hard for them. But on that first day, it took these kids all of five minutes to win me over.

It only took all of five minutes for me to decide that there was no day too long, no work too hard and no dollar amount of Target supplies too high to dissuade me from doing everything I could for them. That’s the thing about being a teacher; you want to make things better for your kids categorically, especially the ones who hate your living, breathing guts. You want to make it better for a roster of kids that just five minutes ago you knew nothing about. And you’re willing to do anything for them.

The main thing I’ve learned from this experience, however, is that no matter how hard we try, we have so few opportunities to make things better for our students, our neighbors and our community. Not simply the people we live near but the people we pass on our way to Starbucks, the people on the bus or the ones who bag our groceries. There is so very little we can do to make their lives easier or even just a little less painful. There is so little we can do for one another, so when we have the opportunity, it is our responsibility as members knit into the same communal fabric to act. This November, we can vote no on the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and take a small step to make things better. We owe it to one another. And never has making our community a little less painful, a little more inclusive been so easy.

We can only do so much to help a 12-year-old being bullied, who may now have internalized homophobia. We can only do so much to soothe the open wounds of the victims of hate crimes, bigoted slurs or an everyday lexicon that uses ‘gay’ as a synonym for a vast manner of pejorative adjectives. We can only do so much to make our society more fundamentally just and less hateful. But we can vote no. We can vote no for our fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and friends and colleagues. We can vote no and do something for them. And it doesn’t require anything except your vote on Nov. 6. So, I urge you to use your vote as an opportunity to make things better now. There are so few things we can do to help one another, and this is one of them.