One of Christina Fallin’s friends wrote a letter to Mary Fallin…
1:00 PM EDT on September 26, 2013
In case you missed it, Governor Mary Fallin recently reminded the rest of the world how intolerant our state can be when she announced the Oklahoma National Guard will no longer process benefit requests for same-sex couples.
Obviously, the news got the attention of the national media. Yesterday, the Huffington Post published an "Open Letter to Governor Fallin" by Dillon Peña. The makeup artist is an Oklahoma ex-pat living in New York City. He's also openly gay and former friends with Christina Fallin.
If you haven't read the letter, you should. Here it is in its entirety:
Dear Gov. Mary Fallin,
I hope that this letter finds you well, and that your day is off to a great start. You may not remember me, so allow me to reintroduce myself to you. I'm Dillon Peña, a former friend and acquaintance of your daughter Christina. I've been to your house in northwest Oklahoma City. I've been to a festival at the Oklahoma River with you. I've broken bread and had dinner with you at Red Rock, and you have even been to church with me. Although I am currently a New York City resident, Oklahoma remains the home of my heart.
I am an Oklahoma fan through and through. I cheer for the Thunder as well as OU and OSU. You see, Governor, I would love to move back to Oklahoma someday. However, today, Governor, in the eyes of the great state of Oklahoma, my two brothers and I are not equal. When you recently ordered that same-sex partners of service members in the Oklahoma National Guard not receive the spousal benefits that their partners earned and that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy, you boldly declared that people like me are not equal in your eyes. Today I have a job in which I am excelling, but in Oklahoma I could be fired simply for being who I am. I could walk into any restaurant and be denied service for being who I am. Worst of all, if I were in the Oklahoma National Guard, I would be reminded that my sacrifice was not equal to that of my fellow servicemembers, solely because I love a man and not a woman.
I was born and raised in the red dirt fields of western Oklahoma, the same place where the seeds of the American dream were planted for both my parents' families. My mother hails from tough stock: farmers who braved and outlasted the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression when so many of their neighbors threw in the towel and headed west. With sweat and blood they endured many droughts to raise their family on the land they loved. First-generation Americans, my father's parents were careful to maintain a connection with their Mexican heritage while instilling in my father a deep love and appreciation for their new home country, which gave them an opportunity for a better life, and a great pride in being American. While raising a dozen children, my grandparents chopped endless rows of cotton until they'd saved enough money to open our family restaurant. Although my two sets of grandparents were culturally different, they both believed their families to be the bedrock of their success. Being in Oklahoma, close to my siblings and extended family, would be a dream come true for me.
Governor, it pains me to recognize that when you didn't know I am gay, you considered me equal. It pains me to know that my beloved Oklahoma appears to be like Alabama of the 1960s, not moving forward but stagnating in prejudice and inequality no longer suited for our country. My prayer for you and the state of Oklahoma is that you move forward on civil rights issues and certainly not take steps backwards. I pray that in future news I read and hear, Oklahoma is not a state of condemnation but one of acceptance.
I've heard it spoken from the church pulpit that when you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. I also know that when hate is spoken from that same pulpit, the words are no longer anointed. So in closing, because the great state of Oklahoma regards me as less than equal, I would like to remind you of Matthew 25:40; in which Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
I pray that in the future you remember, because you are a Christian, to think of Jesus. How would he treat someone? I know that in his eyes I am created just the same as you. And maybe someday I, along with many others who have fled the state, will be able to return to the place we call home.
Dillon brings up some good points, but here's the deal. In 2004, Oklahoma voters approved by an overwhelming 3-1 margin a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as that between a man and a woman. The amendment also prohibits giving marriage benefits to people who are not married. Therefore, Mary Fallin is simply following the will of the people and laws of the land in denying marriage benefits to homosexual service members who simply want the same basic rights and privileges as their heterosexual peers.
Oops, sorry about that. I briefly turned into an Oklahoma Republican and tried to justify the Governor's eye-rolling decision. I promise it will never happen again. At least I didn't morph into a Derplahoman and compare gays to terrorists.
That really is a powerful letter. How can you be against providing benefits to homosexuals after reading that? While being personal but not too personal, Dillon does an excellent job pointing out the absurdity and hypocrisy of the anti-gay movement. He compassionately shows how deep discriminatory laws can hurt and affect people.
My only issue with the letter is where Dillon writes "it pains me to recognize that when you didn't know I am gay, you considered me equal." Dude, you were a single male makeup artist and besties with Christina Fallin. I don't know how powerful Mary Fallin's gaydar is, but I'm pretty sure she knew you were gay when you broke cornbread with her at Redrock. In fact, aren't all of Christina Fallin's friends gay? Not that it matters or anything. I thought it was just a common fact.
Anyway, maybe in a few years our laws will change and we won't have to read letters like this.... yeah right. It looks like we'll have to once again turn to the judicial system to protect the minority from the majority. That's always fun.
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