An Open Letter to the President - Karson Kelley

I am not a fan for appropriating the photos, history, or any portion of one movement to represent another. In this case however, there is an insidious agenda that has been creeping across our conservative regions since the Supreme Court's unfortunate decision on the Voting Rights Act. Under the guise of religious freedom, various attempts to reestablish Jim Crow laws are being made. Ostensibly targeting the LGBTQUAI community and using religion to gain the endorsement of devout Christian minorities, the true purpose behind these attempts is to restore discriminatory laws that work against all marginalized populations. It is a frightening thing to see for me, a person who was child at the beginning of the changes that so many of us died to make a reality. This is not a fight for freedom of religion. It is a surreptitious attempt to inject a viral infection of hate back into American life. I don't want that back. I don't want to go backwards. I don't want our freedoms and civil liberties to be less than those in dictatorships and despotic countries. We are better than that. Our citizens deserve more. So I want to take this appeal from a very brave person and put it out there now, before another Arizona action begins. Let us end this now.  KC

Republished with permission of the author. Originally published under the title "One man speaking to another..."  On the Witless Lackey blog

Image of Black Student Protestors at a White's Only lunch counter with a note under the image reading "Dear Arizona, In case you missed it, we've already had this conversation. You don't get to decide who sits at the lunch counter. 

This is an open letter to Barack Obama, U.S. President, from an American Citizen. I firmly believe that it deserves an answer.

Dear President Obama,

My name is Karson Kelley. You seem to be a pretty cool guy (I voted for ya twice) which is why I'm writing you to ask for some advice. A little background for you on me: I'm a 33 year old small business owner in western Kentucky, where amongst other things, I own a salon/art gallery. I am a professional hairdresser, stilt walker, fire breather, and artist. I also happen to be a gay man and my husband and I have been married since July 28, 2001 (not legally since as a country we've yet to get that straightened out).

For the first time in my life, as an American, I have found myself in a moment of truth, and I fear this is absolutely going to affect me in very bad ways if some changes arent made and quickly. I am referring to the laws that are being passed in Arizona and many other states that are not even thinly veiled versions of Jim Crow laws aimed at gay people.

I can’t stop thinking “How is this even possible?” After doing a little homework, it turns out that as a gay person in this country I and others like me are simply not protected against this type of discrimination. I thought after all we have been through as a culture with women’s rights, African-American rights, and people with disabilities, that this couldn't possibly be the case. Yet the only reason those groups are now legally protected at all is that entirely too much suffering has taken place and entirely too many people had to die on both sides of a senseless argument fighting for the exact same rights.

So I find myself with several unanswered questions. Why is it that each subcategory of any kind of human being in our free and protected country continually find themselves in a situation where it is necessary to defend and protect their own existence in this country? How can we as a society, and as a free country make it possible for each and every American to feel safe and able to go about our daily lives unencumbered by the constant feeling of “what if it’s me next?”

What can I do as a citizen of the United States of America to help you as President and our other leaders and elected officials to make it possible for new laws to be written that literally spell out each and every single possible difference that we all have right down to eye color and coke or pepsi preference and have those laws be worded so that these specific listed differences are inclusive and protected under these new laws not exclusive and discriminatory against them? This seems to me the only way to satisfy the constant back and forth that happens in government regarding these types of issues.

Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.

Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples' physical and mental integrity, life and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, national origin, colour, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or disability;[1][2][3] and individual rights such as privacy, the freedoms of thought and conscience, speech and expression, religion, the press, assembly and movement.

I literally just copied and pasted that from Wikipedia, they seem to have it right. Why can't we as a country do the same? We are not a protected class of citizen like other minorities, By we I mean the LGBTQUAI community. I find it on several levels ridiculous that such protection be necessary in the first place however recent events and others abhorrent actions have proven that this is absolutely crucial to our equality and safety.

I remember as a kid growing up learning about Dr Martin Luther King, who he was, what he did and what he stood for. They still teach that, I still believe it. So what are we showing our children as a nation by teaching them about Dr Kings life and still allowing these inconsistencies to be continually endured one subcategory of people at a time?

Is another martyr what it will take? I sincerely hope not. I like to think of our country as more than what it has been exhibiting itself to be as of late. I for one am more than willing to help get us back on track to being the Great nation that I know we already are at heart. It took a hundred years of public outcry and court battles and countless lives sacrificed to finally get rid of the Jim Crow laws last time. What's it going to take this time? Who are we as a country now? Is that still how we do business in the United States of America? Show me…

I just posted this on my Facebook wall yesterday:

"Ok peeps with several states losing their damned minds about the civil rights afforded to all Americans, I've got to make a post that goes out to those who have fought for those basic rights to be acknowledged in the past (women, minorities), those who continue to fight to protect those rights and those of us (LGBT), who are currently being discriminated against. I'm going to let one of my favorite artists James Taylor hopefully shed a little light on how ridiculous the idea of any kind of discrimination is in the first place. It's our differences that are to be celebrated but it's our similarities that bind us all together. Listen to the words people and wake the f**k up America!"

James Taylor - Shed A Little Light
James Taylor - Shed A Little Light Album: James Taylor Live (1993)

Like · · Share · Yesterday at 12:28am ·

On a side note if you haven't heard the song I highly recommend it ;o) As you can obviously see from this and my other Facebook posts I am a passionate and colorful critter and I expect results regarding this issue. I’m well aware that government tends to race along at a glacial pace and this seems to be a complex issue but it really isn’t and I hope these fundamentally base issues can be addressed as soon as possible. Fyi I'm making this an open letter to you and the rest of our government by putting this on my Facebook. I'll also be sending it to anybody else that could possibly make a difference with this issue that affects us all in such a deep basic and personal way.

Karson Kelley

Thanks for your time and I hope that I can help forward this issue closer to the finish line where we can all be happy safe and free together.

- Karson Kelley


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