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PFLAG Dad David’s remarks at Freedom to Marry Rally

David Stivers - Freedom to Marry

David and Tori Stivers, with their son, Grant

David Stivers, the Co-President of PFLAG Atlanta recently spoke on October 23 at Georgia Equality’s Rally for Marriage in Atlanta, Georgia, where marriage supporters made the case that Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens should stop defending marriage discrimination.

Hello, my name is David Stivers and I am co-President of PFLAG Atlanta.  PFLAG’s mission is to educate, advocate, and provide support for LGBT people and their families.

This is my wife, Tori. We fell in love and were married in Atlanta 30 years ago last June.  When we were planning our wedding, no one said we should rethink our decision, or that our choice of a life partner was somehow inappropriate.  The state of Georgia trusted our judgment and remained silent.  Actually, they didn’t care one way or the other about our marriage.  They weren’t interested if it lasted 30 years or 30 minutes.  As far as Georgia was concerned, we were on our own; our marriage would succeed or fail based on its merits or faults.  Thirty years later, Georgia was right to trust our judgment, because our marriage succeeded.

My two daughters were also married in Georgia and the state was silent about their choice for husbands.  Walking my daughters down the aisle on their wedding days was an experience I’ll never forget.  Nor will I forget how happy they and their husbands were on their special day.

Our 30-year marriage also produced a son.  He was an intelligent, creative, handsome child; from the time he was seven years old, he wanted to be a movie director.  He worked hard in school and in college and focused on his goal, which has now come to fruition with him working in the film industry. We are so proud of him and his accomplishments.

One other thing about our son is that he is gay.  Now, suddenly, the state of Georgia seems very interested in his choice for a spouse. Even worse, Georgia constitutionally forbids him from marrying the person he loves. As his father, I can’t understand why. This is blatantly unfair and discriminatory treatment.  He is a productive citizen who has paid Georgia taxes and contributed to his community in many ways.  And yet, he is not permitted to marry the person he loves.  He not only deserves Georgia’s support and trust, but has earned it.

I would very much like to attend my son’s wedding and throw a lavish party for him and the person he loves, just as I did for my two daughters.  I hope Georgia will allow me to do that in the very near future.  Thank you.

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Gay Foster Kids’ Discrimination Battle Heats Up In States

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Sixto Cancel says his ultra-religious foster family frequently talked about their disdain for his homosexuality at the dinner table, trashed his room and called him homophobic slurs. While he was still a teenager, he says, they kicked him out of their Connecticut home after he had lived there for nearly a decade.

“I’ve had foster homes who completely said you can’t live here if you’re gay,” said Cancel, a 21-year-old student at Virginia Commonwealth University who bounced between half a dozen foster homes while in care. “For a long time I had that self-hatred and uncomfortableness with who I am.”

Discrimination against gay and lesbian youths in foster care is prevalent enough around the country that federal health officials sent a letter in 2011 encouraging states to develop training for caseworkers and foster parents on the issue. Advocates in a handful of states including Florida, California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts have increased efforts to train caseworkers, recruit foster parents and assign mentors. Officials don’t want to force youths to disclose their sexuality, but must try to create environments where they feel safe to come out when ready. Without such support, the federal government memo says, gay and lesbian youths who leave the foster care system can wind up homeless
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Link to this article: http://www.pflagatl.org/2013/06/gay-foster-kids-discrimination-battle-heats-up-in-states/


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