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  • Growing up in Rockville, Maryland, my Dad had 2 rules:
    1. Don’t get pregnant and 2. Don’t be gay

    Do you think my dad had a problem with my sexuality? I knew I was “different” and it hurt to hear my dad say my love wasn’t ok. I wasn’t able to accept myself as gay and come out until I was in my thirties.

    At school I would dutifully put my hand on my heart and say:
    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” I believed it then...but from what I’ve experienced as an adult... I don’t think that liberty and justice for all part is really true, at least not for me as a gay person.

    You see, I’ve always wanted to be married. Similar to you, I wanted to experience love and commitment and two lives shared for life. I feel no less deserving than any other American. I mean...
    I run my own computer consulting business.
    I pay taxes.
    I vote.
    In fact, I even served my country as a Naval Officer and retired in 1993.

    Five years ago I started dating the love of my life, Michele. It wasn’t long before we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. There was just one problem: marriage for us was not legal in North Carolina. When NC legislators proposed Amendment One in 2011, I felt a dagger had pierced my heart. Not only would there be a law prohibiting me from getting married, but it would be enshrined in our state constitution. I could hear my dad’s voice say “don’t be gay”. I felt like
    our state legislators were telling me that I wasn’t good enough and my love was not acceptable.

    I just had to take action - not only for myself and my future wife, but because I believe in our country’s promise of liberty and justice for all. I ran phone banks fighting Amendment One at my church and shared my story with others. Since that time, many things have changed. I married Michele - both at my church and in Maryland where there is marriage equality. Now
    my marriage is recognized not only by the Federal government by also by North Carolina. I think that there are good people on both sides of this issue. Having respectful dialogue will help us to understand each other a little bit better. Since we all are living together under this new reality, we may realize that as people, and as Americans, we have more in common than we think!

    Joyce Heflin
    November 2014
    Durham, NC
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