I want to take my hat off to the Indy for providing a forum for Amendment 1 issues. I appreciate and admire all of the folks from the LGBT community who have shared their stories in recent weeks. The amendment vote was disappointing, but understanding takes time. These stories of struggle and love are helpful in getting the word out that sexual orientation is as genetic as the color of our skin and that we all deserve equal rights. Thanks to all who have participated in the hope for change.

Dawn Quarfordt

On May 9, I woke up less of a person in the eyes of my home state. A person who was already less so by the rule of some pre-existing laws, but now constitutionally less, by an amendment that contradicts the greatest precepts of our venerable national documentthe separation of church and state, the individual’s inalienable rights and protection from tyranny.

My husband and Iwe’ve both just recently turned 59were born and grew up in North Carolina. We have never asked a church or formalized religion to marry us, nor have we asked civil authorities to do so. Truthfully, it once meant nothing to us, because we recognized that 32 years ago a higher power united us with its blessing.

We were both born Christian. My husband is now an Episcopalian, the denomination he settled on after being Presbyterian and Baptist (denominations we still love and respectas I do the Methodist fold I left). I abandoned institutionalized Christianity during the civil rights movement as a very young man, almost still a child really, when I saw and heard the hypocrisy that could sometimes reside therein. However, I did not forsake Christ, nor he, me, but I did find over the years the joy of ecumenical embrace, and gained from many traditions and cultures.

Once it didn’t matter whether society condoned our sacred union or not, but now it does. Not so much even for us, but for all those like us, including our older mentors now dead and gone, some of whom lived in semi-hiding for more than 50 years as “married” coupleslonger than many, if not most, straight marriages last these days. And for those young people after us who are now going even beyond us in the ways they define themselves.

Jeffery Beam