Sayward heroic but not Little
by Rev. Stephen R. Parelli, MCC Clergy

To the Editor:

Republican Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward of the 113th District,
standing apart from many (if not most) in her party, has heroically
voted for marriage equality in New York state. She is a mother, now, to
many of us Republican gay sons and daughters who have been left
behind by political party, church and family. I live in the Bronx with my
same-sex partner of 12 years, married last August, 2008, in California.
But, originally, I'm an upstate boy from the Syracuse area who
vacationed in the Adirondacks and visited relatives on their farms in
Central New York. I grew up in the homophobic, evangelical First
Baptist Church of East Syracuse, attended its denominational college
and seminary, and then pastored my first church in Chautauqua
County. I'm a New York state boy.

My Republican-fundamental parents live in Truxton. And today, they -
like their conservative Baptist fellowship - will have nothing to do with
me or my spouse because we are gay. Hence, Sayward becomes a
surrogate mother for orphaned gay Republicans like me. Unforgivably,
Sen. Betty Little, Republican, from Sayward's district, is not voting for
marriage equality. Little needs to read the April 3, 2009 Iowa Supreme
Court ruling on same-sex marriage. The reasons given by the court for
their decision will make you proud to be American and will shatter the
myths that abound about religion, children, civil unions and other
objections related to gay marriage.

On this past Mother's Day, I phoned my mother. She refused to take
the call, continuing the rejection religion imposes, hurting herself. So,
Senator Little, when the vote comes to the Senate for marriage
equality, will you stand with my dear mother who - out of ignorance,
fear and in the name of God - timidly and graciously refused my call, or
will you cast a vote for equality marriage and join Assemblywoman
Sayward - a fellow Republican who has courageously broken with her
party's popular platform? Certainly, my church has the prerogative to
turn me away and defrock me; my family - as unnatural as it may seem
- may also reject me; but my state, where liberty and justice for all
must prevail, cannot and should not discriminate against me. Tell me,
Senator Little, that you are different than my own mother who is
unable to separate church from family. Tell me you can separate church
from state by voting for marriage equality.

Steve Parelli, M.Div.

Executive director
A Letter
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Rev. Steve
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