“Let me explain to my children that Virginia was one of the states that stood up to bullies”

Bari, one of our supporters Ashburn, wrote this eloquent letter to her legislators - Delegate David Ramadan and Senator Mark Herring and gave us permission to share.  You can take a look at EV Advocates Legislative Scorecard to see that Sen. Herring is on the side of equality and his colleague Del. Ramadan has not been.

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  RE: Tolerance and Equality Dear Sir, [caption id="attachment_1633" align="alignright" width="300"] Mark Herring[/caption] I have lived in Ashburn (Brambleton area), Virginia for the past 9 years. I am a stay at home mother of two school age boys and my husband is a family doctor in Herndon. The area in which we live is incredibly diverse, ethnically and religiously (if not economically). No exaggeration: I live on a street with Jews, Moslems, Evangelical Christians, Protestants of various denominations, Catholics and atheists. Some are first generation Americans and some (I am sure) have been in the United States for many generations. My husband and I love raising our children with the diversity our community affords. We work to instill three main values in our children: Independence, Tolerance, and Fiscal Responsibility. It is the tolerance theme that has accounted for most of the instructional conversations in our house of late. My children (and ALL of their friends) are being taught not to bully or demean others in the schoolyard. We speak often to our children of the responsibility to be fair and tolerant of ALL people. Because we live in an area with many outspoken Evangelical Christians, I instruct them that while some people are guided very strongly in their daily lives by their belief in Christ as their savior, it is important as a Jew to gently let others know that their beliefs are not the beliefs of all. [caption id="attachment_1634" align="alignright" width="178"] David Ramadan[/caption] Growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania my hairdresser was gay as were most of the men who worked in his shop. As a young adult attending college outside of Boston, Massachusetts a few of my college friends were openly gay or bisexual. My first Synagogue in Ashburn, Virginia hired an openly gay rabbi. Because of these experiences, I never understood how people could openly discriminate against bisexuals and homosexuals. I continue to be amazed that otherwise gentle and sensitive people feel comfortable with their right to discriminate against the LGBT community. I do not judge people on the basis of their sexual orientation because to do so is the adult version of bullying those who are different. My 13 year old asked me a question yesterday, and I had to pause before answering to gather my thoughts. "What happens to a same sex couple who gets married in Maryland and then moves to Virginia? Are they not married anymore?" I am ashamed that I had to tell him that in Virginia, their marriage will not be recognized. Right now, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians do not receive the same rights as their straight counterparts. LGBT Virginians can be fired, relationships of loving couples are not recognized, and youth in the foster or adoption system are missing out on having a loving family. Right now, a same sex couple who has a valid marriage 30 miles from my home is in a state of limbo when they travel or move to Virginia. We have a moral and ethical obligation to honor a marriage that is legal in other jurisdictions. We have a moral and ethical obligation to protect the rights of LGBT Virginians who are treated unfairly by their government, their employers, and their community. While some in our Commonwealth may disagree with the notion of LGBT equality, there is no valid public policy argument to support this type of discrimination. Remember the miscegenation laws? Segregation? Racially discriminatory housing regulations? The courts found that discrimination on the basis of race cannot be justified by public policy arguments. Because of these court decisions, racial discrimination slowly becomes a thing of past. Virginia was one of the last states to protect the rights of people of color. Do not place us in this embarrassing position again. The prejudice or religious beliefs of some cannot and must not dictate the public policy for our great Commonwealth. Let me explain to my children that Virginia was one of the states that stood up to bullies and those who believe that their religion is the only proper belief system. Please consider supporting LGBT rights for Virginians. Sincerely, Bari Barton Cooper