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COMMENTARY: No matter who is elected President, the fight for equality continues

It’s Election Day! Get out and vote! When you wake up tomorrow, the 2012 presidential election will be over. For good or for bad, the political fighting will be over, the people will have spoken and we will all move on with our lives.

Almost $1 billion that people could have given to food kitchens or shelters but instead chose to donate to a political figure will be gone forever – the fight for power will be over for this election. Not to worry though, the fight for the White House in 2016 will start anew on this day.

I’ve not had kind things to say about the Republican Party during this whole election cycle. This has made me think a great deal about the Republican people who were so much a part of my youth. To say I was surrounded by them would be an understatement. I don’t know anyone in my family or any one of my neighbors who were Democrats. It was a little town of white, Christian, military-loving Republicans. They were proud of it, and I was expected to follow along in the footsteps of all the other Republican women who came before me.

I was taught that the Republicans were the party of the people, the party that made American strong and free and valued the military above all else. To vote any other way than Republican would be a slap in the face to the members of my family who served so proudly in our military. And the people in my family have served in the military since the Civil War. To cast a vote for anyone who didn’t have an R behind their name would have been a sacrilege.

I’m sad to say, the first vote I ever cast was for Richard Nixon, and happy to say that from the moment I understood that the man was a crook, I started thinking for myself. I realized that no matter what people told me to do – once that little curtain was drawn around my voting machine – I could cast my vote for whomever I chose and I would not be struck down by lightning. No one ever had to know, no feelings had to be hurt, and no words had to be spoken in anger. It was my vote. Mine.

I wonder what these patriotic Republicans of my past would think of this Republican Party of my present. I wonder also what these Republican people of my past would think of their little Barbie Sue being a lesbian. Not just a lesbian, but a column-writing activist for gay rights kind of lesbian. I wonder too how they would feel about me being a card-carrying member of the ACLU and – here it comes – a registered Democrat. They might hate the Democrat thing more than the Lesbian thing – and I would hope they would condemn the tactics and the racist ignorance of their party, but I just don’t know.

My family is still Republican – and most of them have turned their collective backs on me. I’m sure they pray for my lesbian soul, and I’m thinking they believe that praying for me makes all their off-color remarks perfectly fine. Again, I just don’t know.

What I do know is this: No matter who the President of the United States is tomorrow morning, the fight for gay equality will still be mandatory. The fight for people to understand that we in the gay community are simply human beings trying to make our way in the world will still be ongoing. The fight to stop the senseless bullying of our gay youth must be a priority for every one of us. Most of us have been there, we know the pain – we can help.

What I heard this election was a Republican Party that certainly was not in-step with equality for every American. What I know is that we must not let up on what is right and good about the American people. The ignorant, racist, bigoted folks are always going to hate us; this is just sadly the truth.

Those who are affiliated with Christian churches who preach that we are an abomination – well their souls are already sold and they will just condemn us to hell and blame us for everything from hurricanes and tornadoes to the divorce rate in America. We won’t change them. But, these are the fringes of our society. The real work lies in reaching the folks in America who are just like us. Folks struggling to make ends meet, trying to keep families together, teaching our kids love and respect, trying our best just to be good, honest Americans. Once they understand that we agree on more things than we disagree, then the healing will begin.

Whoever the President is – there is still much work to be done. The fight for equality continues.

Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab," can be found HERE.)