Eric Ethington’s speech from the National Impact Equality March

I’ve had several requests to post my speech, so here it is (although remember that it’s largely a compilation of earlier posts).

My name is Eric Ethington, I’m a resident of Salt Lake City, and I’m a bisexual. Although I am no longer a member of the LDS church, I was raised as one. And today I would like to share with you some of my beliefs.

I believe first and foremost, in upholding the rights to marriage of all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, that it is wrong, unconstitutional, and immoral for any state or national government to deny a consenting adult of the civil right to marry any other consenting adult. And that any two consenting adults have the absolute right to marry without prejudice of any kind and all additional rights and privileges of marriage should accompany any such union.

I believe that the right to marry is a secular and civil right; that no religious group should ever be forced in any way to either: (A) change its beliefs, or (B) perform any ceremony that is contradictory to its beliefs.

I believe in the free expression of religion. That any legitimate religious group has the right and privilege to support or oppose the union of any two people, so long as that support or opposition does not infringe upon the free will or rights of others.

I believe in the right to legally and peacefully fight for these rights until all marriages are equal in the eyes of the law, and I intend to exercise that right, for the benefit and good of the United States of America and its people.

For all those who have commented on why the LGBT community (and others) are rallying and speaking out over both the Prop 8 result in California, and the synonymous laws in Utah and other states. There IS a reason.

Few believed that Prop 8 would pass. Everyone thought, “Well it’s California, no way will any anti-same sex marriage law ever pass here.” And although there were several extremely courageous and hard-working groups working to defeat it, it felt as if the nation instead leaned towards complacency.

With the passing of these anti-equal rights laws, it feels like a sleeping giant has been awakened. All of a sudden new voices, and more of them, are being heard everywhere crying out against these injustices. So to those who ask what the point of it all is: It IS making a difference!! People are hearing our voices, they’re listening to our stories, and the fight is NEVER over until we are all equal.

Just because one amendment passes, or 20 amendments pass, doesn’t mean everyone should just give up and go home. They WILL be overturned, and other states will follow, until the entire country accepts this next civil-rights movement. So keep protesting, keep writing, and raise your voice at every opportunity, until even the staunchest supporter of traditional marriage cannot hold back the tidal wave of our efforts!

To finish, I would like to share a letter with you that I wrote to the citizens of Utah, and has since been circulating online. I’ve called it, Dear Utah.

My dear brothers and sisters of Utah, my name is Eric. I live in SLC and would like to ask you a favor. I grew up and was raised as a faithful member of the LDS church. I attended nursery, primary, served several leadership positions in young mens, and was eventually married in the Salt Lake Temple. I’m struggling with an adjustable mortgage and the economy’s toll on my job. I am also bisexual.

Many of my neighbors, and I’m sure many of you, felt confusion, and perhaps misapprehension at the massive protest around Temple Square pushing for “Gay Rights.” Please, I ask that you try to understand what’s going on, and why feelings and emotions are so high on this topic. What we are asking for is not a lessening of the value of traditional marriage. We are not asking for you to change your beliefs. We are not asking the LDS or any other church to change its doctrine. We are not even asking you to agree with our beliefs. What we are asking for, is the possibility of being equal citizens, of enjoying the same privileges and civil rights that everyone else has. We are asking that you believe with us that “We the people” means all of us.

There has been a lot of discussion that if same sex marriage was legalized, a church could be sued if it refuses to perform the marriages, but that same concern existed during the civil rights movement, and that never happened.

We don’t hate any church, and we love each and every one of our neighbors here in this great state. Please, recognize that we have the same feelings that you do. We want to be able to express our love for each other in the same way that husbands and wives everywhere do. America has come a long way in such a short time. We recognized that women are equal to men, that people of color are in no way lesser citizens. We recognized that there is nothing wrong with interracial marriage. But there are still steps to take, we haven’t perfected it yet!

We have to come together, right now, as a common people; and say once and for all that we are all equal, that every human being in this beautiful world should enjoy the same rights as everyone else. That no one is better than his neighbors. Please, stand with us. Our rights are your rights.

With all my love,
Eric E.

 

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