An open letter to Georgia Attorney General, Sam Olens:
As I returned from voting this morning, a friend of mine shared the letter that they had written to you via Facebook regarding your support of upholding the ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Georgia. After reading her words, I vowed to craft a letter also, and here it is.
Sir, I respect your office and the position you hold in the great state of Georgia. Yet, when I read your argument for opposing the Plaintiffs’ requests to have their marriage recognized in the state, I have to question your motives and your rationale.
I understand that in 2003 the people of Georgia voted for the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. I can also tell you that as a well-educated woman, I remember how confusing that amendment’s language was on the ballot.
If we are to be One Nation, we cannot subscribe to the same hypocritical and bigoted lines that existed during the Civil War. Yet, when we look at the voting patterns in the last presidential election and the support for issues such as gay marriage, it is clear that little has changed. The time has come to open our hearts and our minds and I am asking you to do just that.
If we are to protect the sanctity of marriage, then we should also recognize that the very institution has been under attack for generations and perhaps it is time to revisit the rules. After all, I can go to Las Vegas tomorrow and legally marry a man that I meet on the strip, but the state in which I live won’t recognize my marriage to my same-sex partner that was conducted in Vermont. Ironically, the state of Nevada has the highest divorce rate in the nation, where the state of Massachusetts (the first state to legalize same-sex marriage) has the lowest divorce rate.
Let me tell you about my family. My partner and I married on July 1, 2013 at a private ceremony in Vermont. It was the most beautiful day of my life. Since that time, my partner sat by my side during the loss of my brother and my mother.
We married and took a vow to support and love one another “in sickness and in health until death do us part.” Sir, we mean that. Unfortunately, if she or I were to get sick, we don’t have the same legal protections for one another as you and your wife. Sir, in order to overcome that, we have spent thousands of dollars in legal preparation to ensure we have protected our interests and that our wishes are honored. We are lucky that we could afford to do that and had the knowledge to help protect our rights. We only hope that we didn’t fail to cross a t or dot an i.
Unfortunately, we had to lie on our state taxes this year and claim “single.” But, we had to complete 2 federal returns; 1 for married, 1 for single; in order to file our state returns. In any other instance, I believe that this would have been against the law. Mr. Olens, I can go on and on about the ways in which I have to jump through hoops and violate my own personal moral code just to follow the laws of this state. If your attitude prevails, I hope my federal government will step in and grant me the same rights in my marriage as you have.
I am a Georgian. I am a patriot. I am the daughter of a retired Major of the United States Marine Corps. My father was a combat veteran from both Korea and Vietnam. Two of my brothers served and my nephew is currently serving. I am proud to be an American. I grew up in Delaware; where, if I moved back, my marriage would be recognized. But, I love Georgia. I choose to stay here for now. I choose to raise my family here, although I will have to spend money that I would rather invest in my children’s education, on hiring a lawyer to ensure that I can legally parent my children. I pay my taxes on time. I own 3 homes here. I own a business here. My list goes on. And I am only one of thousands. Thousands of people who choose to stay here because we know that our presence will hopefully make a difference in this state and in this country and with closed-minded, antiquated political agendas.
Perhaps it is time to realize that allowing people who will not take the ability to get married for granted, may be the very thing that saves the institution. Frankly, I’ve never seen another person harmed by allowing legal recognition of the union of two loving and committed partners.
I am happy to sit down and discuss this further. It would be an honor, but Mr. Olens, I’m asking you to open your mind to a new way of thinking to make this state, this country, and this world a better place.
Thank you for your time.
Kathryn Kelly-Leary (please note, that my name is not yet legally changed because unlike my heterosexual married counterparts, I have to file a petition and hope that the judge will allow it in the county where I live).
P.S. Olens did respond with, “Kathryn, Thank you for your feedback. Sam Olens”
Kat Kelly (Kathryn Kelly-Leary) wanted to be a rock-star growing up, but traded it in for the crazy world of media, marketing, and digital strategy. Today she works full-time for an awesome global organization and spends her downtime building Vexteo Media Group, an early stage, grassroots human-interest content publisher. She and her partner, Anna, live in Tucker. Together with their furmily of four cats and one amazing dog, they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child in November.
Another letter to Olens from Robbie Medwed, the assistant director of Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity, can be found by clicking here.