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A Call to Duty

Monday, Oct. 11, was National Coming Out Day. Granted, it may
not be New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, or even 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 GLBT people and our allies to
reflect upon the struggles and oppressions, social and
self-imposed, that gay and lesbian Americans continue to face in
this country every single day. In addition, 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 you who are not members of the GLBT community,
National Coming Out Day may not be a noteworthy time. 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 (though you may not know it). And for these people,
coming out of the closet remains a long, difficult, and emotional
process; I speak from experience. We face fear, discrimination,
harassment, rejection, and even violence by revealing our sexual
orientation. And this is why we need your support.

The easiest way you can support your gay and lesbian friends is
by creating an accepting environment, not just on your campus, but
in the nation as well. This means choosing a leader who respects
and supports gay and lesbian Americans in their struggles.

President Bush has used the lives of gay and lesbian Americans
as a political tool. He has pandered to homophobia and bigotry for
political purposes, and has attempted to enshrine in the
constitution permanent second-class citizen status for GLBT
Americans. In George W. Bush’s country, GLBT people are a threat to
the fabric of America.

On the other hand, 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 he passionately opposed the
discriminating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Additionally, John
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. John Kerry has a long
record of supporting gays and lesbians, and he understands that the
real threats to America are not the expressions of sexual
orientation, but prejudice and fear.

Oct. 11 is an important day for GLBT people across this country,
but the truth is, we are more concerned with the quality of our
lives for the next four years. When you go into the voting booth or
mark your absentee ballot on Nov. 2, think of how far gays and
lesbians have come as a community, and how far we still must go.
Vote for a president who will respect our dignity and our