Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Our Stories Are Our Power" - The Story of Representative Sam Hunt

Above: GLBT activist and leader Anna Schlect welcomes Representative Sam Hunt (D-22, Olympia) to the microphone at last night's event celebrating the House passage of Washington State's marriage equality legislation earlier that day.

by Janine Unsoeld

"Our Stories Are Our Power" - The Story of Representative Sam Hunt

While celebrating the House passage of Washington State's marriage equality legislation yesterday, Washington State Representative Sam Hunt (D-22, Olympia) explained that when he first wrote out his floor speech, he used pseudonyms for all his GLBT friends because he didn't know how "out" they were.

"But when I contacted them, they said 'no, please use my name.' It was an honor...."

Below is a transcript of the floor speech given by Representative Sam Hunt (D-22,Olympia) prior to the House vote which resulted in the passage of the marriage equality legislation yesterday afternoon:

For years, my children and their friends gathered at our house on weekend evenings to watch movies, play video games, share friendship, and empty all of the soft drinks from the refrigerator.

Any given night would find 10 to 20 young people in this safe environment -- my wife and I were glad to have them in our home.

As it turns out, several of these young people are gay or lesbian.

I stumbled onto this realization when I would say things like, “Hillary, I think you should go out with Lars,” and was greeted by “Dad, don’t you know Lars is gay?”

Or, “Why don’t you and Mike go out?” and she said, “Uh Dad, I don’t think so.”

When I said Nathan and Katie would make a good couple, the response was, “Dad, that just would not work.” My children were educating me.

Each and every one of these young people is outstanding and welcome in our home any time. And they do visit.

One worked on Broadway before returning to Olympia to start a business; Lars was high school valedictorian who went to the Air Force Academy, served in the Air Force, worked in Congress, and now is at the US State Department.

Another is an investment manager in Seattle.

There are partners, families, and each one contributes to his/her community.

The vote I will take to legalize same sex marriage is for them and for those young adults who are my friends and my children’s friends—those kids who lived in my basement and drank all my Pepsi.

This issue bothers them a lot less than it bothers my generation. They don’t know what the big fuss is about.

They have asked me to take this vote.

My two children have asked me to take this vote.

My wife of 41 years asked me to take this vote.

And my 91 year-old mother asked me to take this vote.

I’m voting YES today on SB 6239 for these young adults—gay and straight—who called our house home on so many evenings.

I’m voting yes for our many GLBT friends and family (Anna, Jeff, Marilyn, Anne, Alec, Gabi) in Olympia and Washington State who deserve the equality and respect this bill provides. And, yes, Cal Anderson, this vote is for you!

I have no doubt it is the right thing to do.

To my basement dwellers, this is for you—our future leaders.

Look for future articles in what will be a series of GLBTQ related stories by Janine Unsoeld under the title: "Our Stories Are Our Power."