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The 'I' in prejudice 

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To those who voted against Amendment 43 and for Referendum I, I would like to extend my sincerest heartfelt thanks for your open-mindedness and support for those like myself, whom these two items affected.

To those who voted for Amendment 43, but also for Referendum I, I would still like to extend my thanks. It's understandable that in a conservative society such as ours, it can be difficult to expand one's beliefs to encompass gay and lesbian relationships as "marriage."

I hope that one day, you will recognize these relationships can be as loving and fulfilling as heterosexual relationships, and contain no threat to the establishment of marriage. Perhaps then you will reconsider your stance on the definition of marriage.

That aside, thank you for being open-minded enough to recognize that when two people have committed their lives to one another, it is only fair to afford them the dignity and respect of recognizing that commitment and extending basic rights to them regardless of their sex.

And for those who voted for Amendment 43 and against Referendum I, I am angered by your actions, but mostly, I feel sorry for you. To have a mind that is so closed off to possibilities and a heart that lacks compassion has to be a terrible affliction. I am the same as you in so many ways: flesh and bone, capable of the same array of human feeling and emotion, having a spirit. However, because I love and am committed to another man instead of a woman, I am somehow less than you and an abomination in the eyes of your God.

Yet, is He not the one that created me? He who is all-knowing, who is perfect and infallible, has willfully made an abomination? Or is this a learned behavior, as I have heard so often? If that is the case, can you please share with me how I was taught this? I am sure my parents would be terribly curious to know how the proper Christian upbringing they offered me has caused me to have attraction towards and love for another man instead of a woman.

As for this being a choice why would I choose a lifestyle that brings down your hate and condemnation on me, for the sake of loving a man instead of a woman? It may be true that I could try to "choose" a relationship with a woman. It would never be fulfilling. It would be denying a part of who I am. Ultimately, it would probably land me in the position that many men have found themselves in, most recently Ted Haggard. I would end up having an affair with a man to meet the needs of the part of myself you would have me deny.

So, to those who voted for Amendment 43 and against Referendum I, I sincerely hope that one day you will open your mind and your heart enough to see the error in your thinking. Perhaps that will be the day that one of your children, your closest friend or your spiritual leader tells you they are gay or lesbian. If you can fight the urge to shun them and push them away, maybe you will have the chance to hear them, understand them and love them unconditionally all the same.

Perhaps it will be the day that your church will finally open its ears to a "revelation from God" that we are all his children and deserving of love and respect as His creations. Or maybe the words of another will finally touch you and convince you to reconsider things with an open mind and compassionate heart.

Until that day, you have chosen a new group of people to persecute and punish in the name of your ignorance. No longer are women or African-Americans the target of your hateful prejudice. Welcome in the gays and lesbians to fill that role.

And, finally, for those who did not vote at all, I hope you recognize that your actions, or inactions, have consequences. In this instance, you sat by and watched as great injustices were done. And you could have done something to stop them.

Michael Singels lives in Colorado Springs and is continuing his education in counseling. He looks forward to working more actively with the community.

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