Donald, left and Charlie right
The fight for LGBT equality in America is a personal struggle for the millions of us who are affected. For Donald Collins, it hits especially close to home. He is an out, married gay man; his sister is a married lesbian businesswoman with a family.
But their older brother, Arkansas state rep. Charlie Collins, has been actively working to deny civil rights to gay people.
Charlie voted yes on SB 202, a bill that essentially blocks any county in the state from extending protections to LGBT people, as the town of Feyettville, Ark. tried to do last year. The bill passed and was sent to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said he will allow it to become law.
Noting that “my brother has a vote, but I have a voice,” Donald penned a letter to Charlie and the people of Arkansas in an attempt to work towards resolution.
He points out an especially hypocritical move by Charlie — that while he works in Arkansas to prevent gay people from gaining workplace protections, he is sending his daughter to stay with his lesbian sister in Seattle to be interviewed by the Fortune 500 company she works for for a potential job.
My niece is a tremendous young lady. She’s a bright and accomplished student who earned her interview on the strength of her own skills and talents. However, I think it’s inconsiderate, hypocritical and rude for Charlie to accept the assistance of my sister, who has been out as a lesbian in the business community for more than 25 years, while at the very same time undermining the types of protections and benefits she and her family enjoy. Thanks in part to his effort if she lived and worked in Fayetteville, and soon possibly all of Arkansas, she might not have a job, and if she did, her wife and their two boys would not have the benefits and protections they have today. The same fate would apply to me.
Donald remains optimistic, however. Looking at the recent acceleration of national gay rights, it isn’t hard to tell which way the wind in blowing.
We all know the movement toward greater equality will only continue to grow in the future, and that bills like SB202 will be seen for the pathetic grasping of straws that they are in the face of the changing tide of acceptance.
He ends with a simple plea:
I can also hope that Charlie understands that the decisions he makes and the votes he takes are not just political, they are personal and they affect people in ways he couldn’t possible imagine because he’s never had to deal with the oppression of a society that treats you differently because of who you are attracted to and who you love.
You can read the full letter here.