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"Get up! Speak out! Vote!" Big Spring Park, Huntsville, 9-23-2012

I am privileged and honored to be with you today as a native of Huntsville, as a gay man, and as a representative of a community which I love dearly…the lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gay community. Through my position as Exec Dir of GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. I live my life as an advocate for people in need of support. As an activist I work to raise awareness of issues affecting the quality of life of individuals and families. The lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gay community transcends all human boundaries. We are part of all religions, all belief systems, all nations, all schools, all neighborhoods, all political affiliations, all ages, all colors, all sizes, and all races. We are part of all families. We are part of all communities. We share all the problems of our society and

all the solutions.

For many years I felt disenfranchised and became apathetic with our political process. I lived quietly and was not a public figure. I’ve realized the mistake I made by not speaking out and voting regularly.

I understand that everyone, especially many people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or part of other disenfranchised minority groups, are not able to speak out. This pervasive state of inequality in our society makes it absolutely essential that those of us who can speak up do speak up. I encourage those of us with the right to vote to exercise this right and to not take it for granted as I did during a period of my life. Voting is another way to speak up. It is a way you can use your voice and feel secure that you will not lose your job, that you will not be abandoned by your family, that you will not be judged unfairly because it is a private process.

All citizens in our nation do not have the right to vote and I consider that in many cases this is a serious flaw in our political system because groups of people with specific needs are not able to influence progress toward a more equitable society by participating in our voting process.

I recognize the incredible Civil Rights journey of the 20th century which took place here in Alabama. I also recognize that this Civil Rights movement contributed to a movement to secure equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I recognize that today the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century is a Human Rights movement in the 21st century.

Alabama is a battleground in the war against Human Rights. Progressive Alabamians must stand together and lift our voices to say to our elected officials here in Alabama and across our country that we will no longer tolerate inequality. We will no longer be denied our rights as human beings and we will no longer sit by while the rights we have struggled for are striped away from us. I stand here today in solidarity with each you who recognize that we continue in a struggle for Civil Rights which is the struggle for Human Rights.

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