“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Believe I am Less Than You”

Max von Essen's letter to family and friends this election year

Courtesy of Max von Essen

Broadway star Max von Essen‘s open letter to family and friends who don’t support LGBT rights this election season has gone viral – and for good reason. Check it out:

Hey, Facebook friend,

Listen, I know you didn’t mean any harm commenting on my post, and I like you; we had some great times growing up. But Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan believe that I am less than you. They believe I am a second-class citizen and don’t deserve the same rights that you had the privilege of being born into simply by being straight. They want to add a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage forever. It would set us back decades and ensure that I never legally have the opportunity to have a family or a partner in my lifetime.

They also believe that being at a partner’s side when he or she is dying is a benefit, not a civil right. They could keep me from my partner as he dies in a hospital. Could you even imagine something like that in your own life, being separated from your wife on her deathbed? Could you imagine your marriage never being recognized, or being told that your family is not a family and that you do not deserve any of the federal rights that come with marriage, of which there are over 1,100? Did you know that? Eleven hundred.

Ryan doesn’t believe in the hate crimes prevention act fought unwaveringly for by Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered for being gay in Wyoming. Murdered for being gay. Could you imagine if I were murdered for being gay? Could you really look my mom in the eye and say, “Oh, well, we cannot prosecute this crime as a hate crime”?

I know there are important issues involved in this campaign. I know that people are suffering and that the economy has not improved at a rate we all wish it would. Yes, people are suffering, but the gay and lesbian community has been suffering for hundreds of years, and I am so tired of it, so tired of feeling less-than, so tired of knowing I have friends on Facebook who will vote for someone who will keep me a second-class citizen for my entire lifetime. I have already spent half a lifetime hiding, half a lifetime conforming. It is exhausting and demeaning, and I am worn out. I want to love myself full-out. I want a president who can look me in the eye and say, “You are equal! You are equal to everyone else in this country, and I will fight for your rights. The time is now, and it is long overdue.” Romney and Ryan could not look me in the eye and say that, and I feel sorry for every gay and questioning child who might have to listen to a potential president who believes that he or she is not equal. Children will take their lives. It is the worst form of trickle-down bullying, and it absolutely splits my heart in half. When the president says you are less-than, it gives permission to every authority figure, every politician, every teacher, every bully on the playground to push you around and bully you and treat you as less-than. It is dangerous, and lives will be lost.

If this is not important to you, please remove me from your friends list. I need people in my life who love me and consider me 100-percent equal.