National Coming Out Day a reason to vote

Today is National Coming Out Day. It might not be homecoming, but for many of your peers, it’s much more important.

Beyond the public expression of sexual orientation, National Coming Out Day is also a time for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and our allies to reflect upon the struggles and oppressions, social and self-imposed, that gay and lesbian Americans face in this country every single day. Additionally, it is a time to reaffirm that we, as a community, support an environment where every person lives free from fear and discrimination.

For those of you who are not members of the GLBT community, National Coming Out Day might not be important. But it should be significant because, more likely than not, you are friends with, took a class alongside or have someone in your family who is gay or lesbian. Coming out of the closet remains a long, difficult and emotional process. I speak from experience. We face fear, discrimination, harassment, rejection and violence by revealing our sexual orientation. This is why we need your support.

The easiest way you can support your gay and lesbian friends is by creating an accepting environment. You can do this by choosing a leader who respects and supports gay and lesbian Americans in their struggles.

By pandering to homophobia and bigotry and attempting to enshrine in the Constitution a permanent second-class citizen status for GLBT Americans, President George W. Bush labels GLBT people as a threat to the fabric of the United States.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment. He was one of only 14 Senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and passionately opposed the discriminating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Kerry supports the passage of comprehensive hate-crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, so GLBT people can work in environments free of discrimination. Kerry understands that the real threats to the United States are not the expressions of sexual orientation but prejudice and fear.

Today is an important day for GLBT people across this country. However, we are more concerned with the quality of our lives for the next four years.

Wayne Ting is the national chairman of the GLBT Caucus of College Democrats. Please send comments to [email protected]