Thursday, February 7, 2013

An Open letter to Rep. Kurt Wallace

  Though you do not represent me in the Alabama Legislature - and for that I am unspeakably thankful - as a matter of conscience, I do need to inform you that you are in no position to tell anyone what constitutes a family.

  In correspondence between you and a constituent, you arrogantly, ignorantly and divisively told a woman, “…by definition a ‘family’ is a husband, wife, and children.” In another patronizing bit of communication, you told a constituent: “Stop trying to play God.” The latter bit of communication is especially humorous… because who the hell do you think YOU are telling anyone what makes a family?

  I was four years old when I returned from Sunday school and asked my mother if we were a family. She was in the process of divorcing my father, and I was confused because in that Sunday school class, the teacher had been discussing families. During the discussion, she placed figures on a felt board, and in each there was always a father, a mother and multiple children. She assured me we were a family, and I never had to make that inquiry again.

  No one had reason to argue or imply that my mother and I didn’t qualify as a family, and now – over 30 years later – I sure as hell won’t tolerate that same ignorant, Dark Ages thinking from an elected official or anyone else.

  You have no semblance of a right or the authority to tell anyone what constitutes a family. Just as I don’t have much of a right to call you a cripplingly close-minded son of a bitch…. But I’ll freely do so. In fact I just did!

  Families come in many forms and despite your view from under whichever rock you reside, couples – unmarried or otherwise – are families. A grandmother raising a grandchild also makes a family. A widowed father raising his children… they too, are a family. A same-sex couple who in part can’t wed in this state due to hate-peddling soulless types like yourself who are still solidly stuck up the ass of a “Leave It to Beaver” episode and a pair of segregated drinking fountains – they’re a family as well! There are countless variations of “families,” and no amount of misguided judgment or unqualified pontificating will change that.

  This is not a country club membership we’re talking about – you don’t qualify as a family based on who you know, what cookie-cutter mold you fit, whatever color of skin you may possess or whose ass you may kiss. Nor is meeting Kurt Wallace’s criteria on that checklist…. Get over yourself, pal.

  Are you prepared to sling your self-righteous mug into the face of a single mother whose cheating husband left her and deny them the family label? Are you willing to stand in the face of a man and his children whose wife lost her life to cancer and stamp them as being something other than a family? Do you have the audacity to stare down a lower income couple who cannot conceive and are also hesitant to adopt due to their financial limitations and kick them to the sideline, refusing to let them join those who can call themselves “families?”

  You don’t even have to go to such lengths, you can say it to my face. I’m more than willing to take a stand for all of them. I and countless other Alabamians are no longer willing to take any form of bullying such as this – the demonization of single mothers, the ridicule and belittling of those living in poverty, LGBT individuals just trying to survive the rampant harassment and discrimination, people of religions which are less common in Alabama, and of course people of color. We’re over it. We’re not lying down anymore. And we’re sure as hell not going away. By god, bring it!


  Joseph O. Patton

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

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