To some extent it was funny (OK it was downright f--king hilarious) when the guy threw up his hands and shouted, "Don't touch me, Satan!" after Libertarian Ronnie Fitzgerald asked him to sign the marriage equality petition at the Delaware State Fair on Thursday.
And it was . . . interesting to stand there all day in the T-shirt and listen to the comments or absorb the looks. "I hope your people can find happiness." "No sir, I don't have truck with your perversions." "I'm a Christian so I will pray for you." "You said you had a son, so you must have been normal sometime in your life."
I made a conscious decision that I wasn't going to say, "No, I'm not gay, I just happen to support equality for everybody in America," because I really wanted to find out at least a little something about what it felt like to be Chuck Mead-e or any other gay man standing up for his rights in what could at times be a hostile crowd.
Last night Chuck and Libertarian Wendy Jones had to be escorted to their vehicles at the end of the fair day by the State Police, thanks to some overly aggressive Delawareans who apparently don't like the First Amendment any more than they like gay people. I didn't see that, though I did see several interactions on Thursday that had the potential to spiral out of control that way.
Chuck keeps his cell phone ready to dial 9-1-1.
I understand that.
This afternoon my sixteen-year-old daughter Alexis will be joining me at the petition table and doing a couple of hours of work soliciting signatures. She asked if she could come, and I said yes before I knew about any of this. Then my wife and I discussed it with her, and she still wants to go, even though she knows there is an element of risk involved. She's a soccer goalkeeper and a basketball point guard, she reminds me. Those are contact sports and involve a lot of intimidation.
I don't think she understands that this involves hatred and fear as well.
But we're going to let her go. She's old enough and she's earned her right to stand up for her beliefs (and, besides, Chuck and I will be there on either side of her).
(By the way, she'd like you to know that she's not necessarily a Libertarian just because her gene pool happens to be so contaminated. She's picking her own political ideology when she gets around to it, thank you. But she does know it will include equal marriage rights for everybody.)
So I will let you know what happens. I'm proud of her, and concerned at the same time. But I'm also--WE are also--unwilling to allow our daughter to grow up not ready to take a stand for what she believes in.
(For yesterday: thanks to Libertarians Jim Christina and Amy Merlino for their time at the table.)
And my last questions: where are all the damn Democrats who are supposed to be so concerned with civil rights? Why, when it comes down to it, are only the Libertarians apparently willing to stand up publicly and be counted with our LGBT brothers and sisters?