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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Testify by Katie Collins

The following essay is reprinted with permission by Katie Collins, a dear friend and a fellow writer. You can visit her website My Imperfect Truth by clicking the title of this piece or the link here.

I’m not brave. Let’s make this clear. I’ve never been brave. From my childhood friend Laurie who trudged home in silent disgust with me one winter’s day when I refused to slide head first down a huge snowbank into a concrete parking lot, to the eighth grade science teacher who shouted “wussy wussy wussy” at me when I admitted to my fear of hornets during an entomology class, to a former boss who used to watch me looking out my office window at snow covered roads and say ‘oooh scary scary snow for your ride home!,” I’ve always been pretty easy game for people who loved to point out my fears and weaknesses. Time and age have helped me get over some of them. I don’t run away from bees anymore, and I can almost sleep through a thunderstorm, and a good solid four-wheel drive jeep has helped with the snow driving issue. But I’m far from considering myself brave.

This week I’ll have to dig deeper and harder than ever to find an ounce of bravery to do something that terrifies me- testifying before a legislative committee about my marriage. Yes, a mere four months after Kelly and I said our I-dos, ate cake, danced to “My Girl,” and opened gifts at our wedding, a series of bills is threatening our marriage. Our marriage. Our hum drum normal, tacos-on-Tuesday, Glee on the DVR, homework over the kitchen table, did you feed the cats yet, family life is apparently so deeply offensive to certain members of our state legislature that they not only want to repeal the law that allows for marriage equality but also to pass another law defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman. In short not only would no other same sex couples be able to marry but my marriage would be…. null. And that makes me angry. And when I get angry… I… cry. Ok that’s sort of embarrassing and undermines any ounce of credibility I can hope to have. But anger can also make me brave and I’m counting on the bravery part to over ride the crying part on Thursday morning when I will join with others to testify that marriage equality should remain legal in New Hampshire. And I’m terrified. I’m terrified of what the opposition will say. I’m terrified of crying and making a fool out of myself when I try to explain what it means to me to be married to the woman I love more than life itself. What it means to sit with my wife and daughter over Sunday night chicken dinners and know that this family is whole and healthy and legally recognized the same way as everyone else’s family. I’m afraid that somehow by testifying I’m opening my family up to hate and bigotry that we’ve never had to face before. I’m so angry that it has come to this at a time when our state and our country have so many real problems, and yet have the time and energy to create a problem out of people loving each other. There is a not-small part of me that wants to ignore these hearings, stay home or at my desk and pretend it’s not happening, leave the rallying and gathering and testifying to others better suited to it than I, people used to the political arena, people who are brave.

But I know that this is something I have to do. I have to do it for my family, for my friends who celebrated their own marriages and the births of babies this year, for my daughter’s young teenage friends who excitedly told me about “straight ally’ week at their high school and complimented me on the HRC sticker on my jeep. For the friends and family who danced at our wedding wearing ‘I like girls who like girls t-shirts.’ For the maitre’d at the restaurant Monday night who congratulated us on our first married Valentine’s Day. For the pride I hear in Kelly’s voice when she refers to Liza as her stepdaughter. I won’t lie. I’m still scared. But I’m hoping if I carry these memories and these voices with me that maybe I’ll find a way to be brave. And I’ll do what I have to do.


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