Monday, August 11, 2008

The Education of Darryl Rouson

Let's file this change of heart under "evolving" rather than "flip-flopping."

Florida State Representative Darryl Rouson once opposed adoption by gay couples (Florida is one of the last states in the union that discriminates against GLBT adoptions). But some soul-searching has changed all of that, according to The St. Petersburg Times.

Only two years ago Rouson made an appearance on WEDU's Florida This Week, where Rouson said: "I think it is wrong to allow adoptions of children by gay and lesbian couples. It sends a wrong message early to a child during formative years that's hard to overcome just by sitting down and talking to them. … I think lesbianism and homosexuality is morally wrong. … We need to go back to some morals of what used to be and keep things as simple as the Ten Commandments."

Yet these days he has taken a new and different view:

"I have become educated. I have evolved... When I heard those words and saw my demeanor, I was saddened that I was so condemning and cavalier about my fellow human beings. I am not God. Nor should I sit as God and condemn or judge any human... My words were harsh, divisive and painful. … I knew immediately in my gut that I had to correct that. For me, it was a humanitarian issue...

"In the ensuing time since the taping, I have forged relationships with individuals in that community, and these are individuals I genuinely like. They are good people. I have seen more vividly and paid more critical attention to the matter of children in the foster care system born to crack-addicted moms with dads in prison. Why should they languish in a cold system when they could be in loving households — same-sex households? The paramount interest is the love and welfare of the children.

"For me, it was not a theological or biological debate. It was not even a political one. It was just the right thing to apologize for causing pain and speaking in condemning words of a fellow human being. There was not any concern of losing this seat or winning this seat. If I lose, the worst case scenario is to go home to raise my five boys and make a ton of money practicing law. No, I didn't flip-flop. I evolved. It was a growth process."

I think this example shows all of us out there that educating people with our lives and telling our stories is one of the key ways to achieve equality. Every time we are open about our GLBT loved ones, or our experiences being GLBT or a straight ally, we help open the eyes of those around us. It happened to Darryl Rouson - and it can happen to anyone!

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