Roger Dean Huffstetler, a former Marine Corps sergeant, has penned an op-ed for the Washington Post chronicling how he came to not only tolerate homosexuals, but stand up for the community:
No, I never gay-bashed. I didn’t bully, I didn’t hate, I didn’t torment.
But I did say “fag” to a fellow Marine in front of Sgt. Santiago. I did stay seated in the pew when my minister challenged, “Don’t let anyone tell you that this church is soft on homosexuality.” Silence is a most powerful consent.
I would think: Civil unions, what’s wrong with that? I considered myself “accepting” and “tolerant,” excusing the soft discrimination that’s easy to shrug off, the implicit inequality of separate but equal.
The irony was that I had always imagined that if I’d lived in the time of segregation and the civil rights movement, I would be the white Southerner who was proud to march with the NAACP — that I would tear down bigoted beliefs and demand equality for all, even putting myself at risk if need be.
But I didn’t do those things. I watched the fight right in front of me without question, inactive and accepting — just like the generations before me.
Well, no longer.
If you’re reading this and you go to church every Sunday but you know that discrimination is wrong, or you’re serving overseas and worried that you or others in your squadron can’t be themselves, there is something you can do. Write. Speak out. Find the Andys and Sgt. Santiagos in your life and make amends. There is still time to be on the right side of history.
I really encourage you to read the entire piece over at the Washington Post. I think a LOT of folks have experienced a similar genesis.