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Different, not less

Recently there was an article discussing the possibility that former Deputy Premier George Smitherman and his partner were attempting to adopt a child.

Recently there was an article discussing the possibility that former Deputy Premier George Smitherman and his partner were attempting to adopt a child. The first letter to the editor strongly condemned this possibility and it generated further responses on both sides of the issue.

It is extremely difficult for people to let go of an ingrained sense of their own personal beliefs of right or wrong. It does not mean they are correct, but it is those core beliefs that are likely the hardest to change. A person’s feeling towards homosexuality appears to be one of those topics.

Mr. Smitherman has not hidden the fact he is gay and he has been elected to public office countless times. He is currently running for mayor in Toronto. I have had the pleasure of meeting him several times and I found him quite engaging and certainly knowledgeable with whatever topic was at hand.

I am not sure if his was the first same sex marriage in Ontario, but I believe it was certainly the most publicized. Is the fact that he and his partner wish to adopt, worthy of a news article because they are gay? Certainly this cannot be the first time a gay couple has attempted to adopt a child.

Now as I indicated that initial letter to the editor was scathing in its attack on this possibility. A lifetime of experience and belief cannot be changed with a magic wand, but some of that letter’s comments made me feel sorry for anyone who believes being gay makes an individual any less than someone else.

Less than 100 years ago women were finally allowed to vote; approximately 50 years ago, black people began to make progress as a race and culture. Certainly the status and economic opportunity of our Aboriginal peoples is a topic yet to be resolved. Our society while fantastic is far from perfect.

Why are people so fearful or angry towards those who are gay? Estimates indicate 10 per cent of the population is gay. If you have 30 relatives, chances are three of them are gay. Are they less a human being than you are?

My friend Shawn and I had a close friend in high school that went through some difficult times. In our early 20s after several girlfriends, he finally confessed to me that he was gay.

I recall vividly his tremendous fear while he was confiding to me. He kept expecting me to shun him, to walk out the door and leave. On his first suicide attempt, Shawn and I drove six hours to be with him. We did not have a gay friend, we just had a friend in need. I could only imagine his pain.

Unfortunately a subsequent attempt was successful and not many days go by that Shawn or I do not think of him. Almost 30 years later, the challenge and the pain many still go through should no longer exist because of who they are. They are human beings.

Mr. Smitherman and his partner are dealing with the Children’s Aid Society. CAS will decide if the home is suitable for a child or not. To suggest any child learns this behaviour seems incredible to me in 2010.

Do you recall the day you decided to be heterosexual? Was it on your 14th birthday or earlier, perhaps eight or nine? Do you recall exactly when you preferred blonds to brunettes, shorter to taller or is it just something that exists? Do you honestly believe people who are gay sit around the table and decide this is what they wish to do, to have a life of difficulty and challenge, to be looked down upon or is this just who they are?

One letter to the editor was written by Haley Symons who spoke about her adoption and how she was raised in a home with love, not a home with two heterosexual parents.

Her letter in my view captured this topic better than most. I knew that adorable little girl some years ago and am aware of the circumstances that led to her adoption. She had a home with two loving parents who nurtured and cared for her. Should that not be the issue, the love and support all children should have.

We should never be afraid because some people are different. Understanding needs to replace fear. Compassion needs to replace hate and love needs to replace anger.

That is the only way we as a society can move forward. Personal opinions of this issue are not important, but the long term safety, security and love of that child is. Let the CAS decide. Sometimes the system does what it is designed to do.

Just a thought.