This is a very personal blog post today, but I hope it has a positive impact and brings a sense of support to some of our AOTA members and other members of the OTConnections community.
There has been a 3 year discussion thread on social justice and whether social justice belongs in our Code of Ethics. The rights of any single group of persons need not be discussed in order to debate the issue, but occasionally the topic of marriage equality as a human right is raised, as it has the last 3 days. I encourage participants to leave the topic alone, but I cannot ignore posts in a professional occupational therapy forum that advocate that human and legal rights should be denied to a portion of our membership and our citizens so I respond in the discussion.
Today it hit me in a particular way, so here goes…….
For once in my life I don’t have the words. I don’t have the words and it literally brought me to tears this morning. For almost 30 years I have worked in the profession of occupational therapy and at work have never once felt that I was treated differently just because of who I was. Yet here, on OTConnections in our public discourse, professionals have indicated that I am different and different in a way that makes me not worthy of the same rights and legal protections they have. I don’t have the words to make them understand and it brought me to tears.
In my personal life I get “it” for the first time. For the first time I understand why it is that people commit themselves to another for the rest of their life. I don’t have the words to explain that feeling, but I know many of you will understand, or want to.
Yet, imagine this…….
Imagine that person you have in your life now, or the person you may meet someday that you will want to commit to for the rest of your life and imagine that:
The list of ways you are treated differently; the ways you are treated as “less than,” go on and on and on and on but it is hard to explain to some people who don’t have to give any of these things an ounce of emotional energy or thought JUST how much it hurts when they brush this aside.
I don’t have the words to make them recognize how ultimately the denial of the human right to marriage DOES affect your performance everyday as a worker, a home manager, a community member. It affects your performance as a volunteer, a family member and a “partner” which is the word you use because husband can’t be accurate yet and feels too hollow.
For the first time in my life, I get what it means to want to commit to someone for the rest of my life and colleagues I respect professionally are telling me that is a personal agenda, that it is just a Texas issue, that it has nothing to with my profession, nothing to do with occupational therapy. I don’t have the words to help them understand that it impacts almost every occupation I perform, and that brought me to tears.
It only lasted a moment though, just as I parked the car and now I am more ready than ever to continue working to make it all right; to make the world and our profession a better place.
I am with you 100% Brent and appreciate you sharing your emotions as well as your thoughts about this.
I am with you. I believe that real occupational therapy means being inclusive, and that our community must values all the ways that humans are. I support you, your right to marriage and you right to be who you are. Barb
Thank you for your eloquent and powerful words and your willingness to share them.