You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Veterans Day Is a Good Day to Start a New Discussion

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/11/2015 Wayne Maines
DEFAULT © Provided by The Huffington Post DEFAULT

On Veterans Day, I saw this post from my cousin.

OK, here we go; I will more than likely loose some friends and family over this but anyway. I am so pissed off right now I could chew nails. President Obama vetoed a bipartisan defense bill because he wants more money for the IRS and the EPA, are you kidding me? I want one, just one of my Democrat friends to help me understand this decision. I don't mean some cute liberal left propaganda cartoon, I mean some well-thought-out argument to help me understand putting our country at risk over the IRS or EPA! This has got to stop. I am a pretty open minded individual trying to understand all sides, but this is over the top. Are you really that short sighted to not see the big picture? You are so caught up on your individual struggles you do not see what is going on outside your tunnel. I want any one of you to challenge me to a debate on the issues facing this country, because if this president is what you support I have serious problems with that. If one of you Democrats can help me understand, I am all ears!
Here is my response:
John,
Today is Veterans Day, I started writing this at 5 a.m. this morning. I was alone in my one room, -- just a bedroom, nothing else -- a shared kitchen and bathroom with the church community, located in the Wilson Center Community Church. It has been over five years since I have lived with Kelly and the twins because of the "conservative right" targeting Nicole. I am so disappointed that after working hard since we were teenagers back in the '70s, that I live in one room, alone, two hours from my family.
We live in the United States of America, but my family and so many others have to live in hiding to protect our gender non-conforming children/transgender children. We have to fight against Religious Freedom bills that are based upon unfounded fears, and propaganda by focus groups. We quit our jobs, homeschool our kids, and we worry everyday what is going to happen next -- will it be physical harm or worse?
You ask that one of your Democrat friends debate you on the issues facing our country. I am not sure this is a debate, but I want to give you some feedback; maybe you and I are the only ones with the courage to speak freely on Veterans Day.
My mind gets clouded when I think about the complexity of the decisions that President Obama must make everyday. Decisions that arrived at during a time in America when some of our nations leaders purposely place roadblocks at every turn. I am now a registered independent, no longer a Republican for many reasons, but I still stand strong with values that might be labeled as "conservative." I think we need to get past these labels and get back to helping our nation grow.
We both volunteered for military service when it was unpopular to do so, we have had family and friends die and who were POWs while protecting our freedoms. Like you, I believe in a strong military and our defense department needs adequate funding. The rub is, "what is really adequate?"
I remember playing cards with three generations of Maines men and boys, sometimes you and I even won a few bucks from our dads. They are cherished memories. We talked about sports, hunting, politics, and of course then old-timers teased us until our mothers yelled at our fathers to let us go to bed. I would like to see a key leader from each party and a couple well-respected retired military leaders to sit down with us for an evening of cards and explain what adequate spending for the Department of Defense should be.
Just like you, I get angry when we cannot move forward, but for me moving forward starts with protecting our most basic freedoms at home. I still cannot fathom that Nicole does not have the same rights and privileges that you and I have served to protect. I am also so thankful that you love and support her, while reminding you that so much progress has been made during this administration to do the same.
I know that I am to attached to the issues, but I believe that personal freedom in our homes, schools and communities must be our highest priority. If every child gets to grow up safely, with the same support as their classmates, they might become the next national leader we need to bring us all together.
I have a great deal of respect for President Obama because under fire he has worked extremely hard to make the world a better place for everyone. He has supported the LGBT community at home and human rights around the world in ways that I thought I would not see in my lifetime. The White House reported today that his administration fully supports the Equality Act, that new legislation will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, expanding it to include bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.
Just a few weeks ago I was asked to help teach a Department of Justice class for law enforcement officers in Maine. I listened as the instructor, a retired Marine/police officer whom I have the greatest respect for, asked a question. "Who does the 1964 Civil Rights Act protect? Someone answered "everyone" and the class went forward. Then it was my turn to speak. I stood up and apologized to the others instructors and proceeded to tell the class that they were wrong; the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not protect everyone. I explained that my transgender daughter does not have the same rights or protections. I then -- like I so often do -- was feeling every emotion looking out into a sea of law enforcement personnel. I could not stop, the truth is just too important. After the class, one of the officers came up and asked me if he could give me a hug. It made it all worth it and keeps me energized to continue to speak out.
To all of your friends and family who I hope meet someday, maybe go hunting or fishing. I understand that the passage of this amendment will not solve our world security concerns, nor balance our budget, or save the environment, but it will send a message to Americans and the world that we value and respect all people. It is a good place to start. Equality and respect can be used to open new types of discussions and peace agreements that will help eliminate the need for a growing defense budget. Maybe it might even convince the people from both sides of the asle to really discuss how to improve the fundamental changes for the IRS and the EPA.
Dave, here is what I know now that I did not 10 years ago; people who are deeply afraid and set in their ways can change. I have changed so much. I learned from children that I was wrong in so many ways. I am a stronger person today for the experience, much more open to change and much more forgiving. I am less prone to anger and more level headed, but I am still afraid for the future. I hope that our nation can start to have the same difficult, open and honest discussion that you and I are having today.
Maybe you and I cannot solve the world's problems, but I hope we can look for ways to initiate progress on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line so our country can move forward. I hope our next president will have more opportunities, and less time spent protecting his backside, so the leaders of our nation can get back to business.
Enjoy the rest of Veterans Day. I will remember your dad today, Uncle Bob (Who was shot down over Holland in WWII) and Uncle Harry's son, Joseph Maines, who never made it home from Korea. He played a major role in my life without us ever meeting. I will remember all of our veterans and wish their families well no matter what their politics might be. Remember, we are all Americans that need to be proud and stand together when it counts.

More from Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon