This evening, while my wife and I were washing dishes after dinner, you approached and asked me, "Is there a person named Romney?"
I nodded and wondered aloud, Why? To which you replied, in your terse, matter-of-fact way, "You said mean things."
The truth is, I had. After showing my wife video clips of the debate she missed – showing her, in particular, Romney's response to a question on unequal pay for women – our talk in the kitchen became unfiltered. We were upset. We were honest.
We did not know you were standing in the doorway.
I bent down to apologize and tried to explain – explain that this man is running against President Obama, explain how important the election is – but you being six-years-old, I just squinted and said, "Abba made a mistake."
But my anger, the anger you witnessed which caused me to use language you don't normally hear from me, was triggered because I love you. Because I love your potential. I love your sharp mind and your inner strength and I wish, more than anything, that they will be honored when you are a woman in an environment of full equality.
This weekend, my daughter, we went to the neighborhood second-hand store to buy you a belt. You were so excited – you get excited so easily – and we picked out the perfect one to help hold up those slightly over-sized hand-me-down pants. It was light brown. You loved it.
Yesterday, you came home and said that kids at school told you the belt was a boy color. That the boys said it was a boy belt. I responded, "There's no such thing as a boy color."
And you said, "That's what I told them."
Today, you wore the belt, and you were still excited to wear it. I loved you for that.
And so what I want to say now, what you can't understand now but what I want you to know in the future, is that my angry outburst this evening was because I don't want any man, at any time, to dictate to you what you can do or your worth on the basis of your gender.
I don't want the Romneys of the world, when you are a woman, as you become a woman, to still be establishing for you a diminished net worth in the workplace. To be looking at your resume and thinking, "Not a man."
I don't want the Romneys of the world to dictate to you what you can do with your body, what you choose to do with your body and how you care for it.
I don't want the Romneys of the world to scoff at you and place you in metaphorical binders, just because of your gender.
I don't want the Romneys of the world to continue, as they still amazingly do, to insist that a pregnant and cooking woman is a good woman.
I want you to wear whatever belt you want. And I want you to wear that belt in a world where your choices and actions are viewed with equal worth.
Because I love you. And because other parents across the country who are thinking the same thing love their daughters.
Because our country can't afford to elect a man who devalues your potential, my child, because of your gender.
Which is why I got angry. I'm sorry you had to hear those words. And I'll try not to use them again.
But I don't apologize for the anger. Because the anger is for you.