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February 23, 2017

Representative Perry,

I write to you as a resident of York, PA, transplanted here from Chicago in 1990 when my wife found a job in York after her graduation from Northwestern University, where we met. Once again, we as a nation are at a crisis point for the rights of LGBTQ citizens and I would like to speak to you about that. I am including excerpts from blog posts I wrote at other national crisis points. The first is from 2008, when California was voting on Proposition 8, which was eventually declared unconstitutional. I tweeted links to my full posts to your official Twitter account, should you wish to read them in their entirety.

‘back to, well Proposition 8. I wasn’t really thinking about it last night; I think I didn’t really expect it to pass…

I’m not out with the purple lambda everyday or the rainbow bumpersticker on my car; I think it’s more important to proceed everyday the same as the rest of the folks who just go about their business, raise kids, work, read, play, love, say stupid things, say brilliant things, worry, get angry, go to church, don’t go to church, respect other people, try to set a good example for others and all the rest. I don’t believe in evangelizing, I believe in leadership by example. I believe in creating a life you can be proud of on many levels so that if there is a young gay person watching how you live, they see you live just like everybody else. That’s the trouble with claiming an identity or an adjective, you get put in a box and people only start to see one thing. I believe in the individual and the extraordinary things a person can do when they stop trying to meet other people’s expectations. I think the Founding Fathers did too and that’s why we have one of the most flexible constitutions in the world.

From 2012, on the brink of a very divisive Presidential election:

“Let’s make it personal. Hi, my name is Michelle Denise Norton. I want to get married. To the very specific person I fell in love with, Gayle Eubank. Now. I will be engaged for 24 years this December and if it had been possible, I would have met Gayle somewhere in Evanston or Chicago for a civil ceremony before she moved into my apartment at the end of January 1989. I had a roommate (let’s call her D) freak out when she found out Gayle and I had started dating. This involved D demanding she move into university housing in Gayle’s place and Gayle move into our apartment. I had maybe planned to move in together after Gayle got back for the summer. So that timeline suddenly got accelerated. At this point, I had finished at Northwestern and was working as an Admissions Clerk at a hospital and Gayle had just started her senior year as a Journalism Major.

The United States Presidential election is happening Tuesday. We are at a point of cultural shift. The Republican and Democratic National Parties (oh, they are so not a party, either of them) and the GLBTQ media and community have turned the “can the gay community marry” question into a high contrast, highly volatile, yes or no, no compromise issue. Vote Romney, be anti gay marriage and families; vote Obama, equal rights are supported in speeches and interviews, mechanics to be worked out later…

maybe some day soon, I’ll be able to flash you a picture of that wedding ring* ; )

*Gayle did accept my initial proposal that December night, but has refused to go through with it twice…once at a protest during a March on Washington and once when I suggested we go to Canada. My feelings were hurt. A little. But her theory: do it once, legally and in church. Ours is Episcopalian so that part is possible. Take a New Jersey Irish Catholic and a Kentucky Southern Baptist and after seventeen years or so, the church they agree on turns out to be Episcopalian.”

And here we are now in 2017. Gayle and I were married on June 21st, 2014, in the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in downtown York City, where we have been members of the congregation for nearly a decade. Even if Obergefell v. Hodges is reversed, my name and my wife’s will always be listed together, with our witnesses, in the marriage register of a church older than the United States of America. Because progress moves forward. Being married is not only a public affirmation of the seriousness we have always treated our partnership with but has also simplified explaining that relationship to others. People understand that you do not enter into a marriage lightly. It has also enabled me, an artist, to be included on my wife’s healthcare plan and for Gayle to file her taxes as the head of our household.

Gayle and I grew up in the 80’s, when people could pretend they didn’t know what ‘gay’ was. But today, in 2017, with LGBTQ citizens out, living, working and contributing to society EXACTLY the same as their straight fellow citizens, if you, Representative Perry, abuse your position of responsibility to pull back rights from vulnerable LGBTQ youth, effectively branding them as a lesser class of citizen, history and I will have nothing but contempt for you.

Thank you for your time.

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