Well, another milestone in my life: I am a member of the Daily Kos. It's not something I had ever imagined for myself, considering my history. For those Daily Kos readers out there who don't know my name, I wouldn't be surprised. There are a number of you, though, who probably do: I am the former paid strategist (fear-mongering propagandist) for the National Organization for Marriage who resigned after he met gay people and saw there was nothing to be afraid of.
I must admit that I did not wander into this forum on purpose. Instead, I happened across a recent entry by another Daily Kos member which included my name and that's when the thought crossed my mind: Why don't I sign up? I guess it are the reasons that idea crossed my mind that I would like to share with you.
I have been wrong on just about every political position I have ever held. In high school, I made a political prediction based on hope that was in direct conflict with what my history teacher said was politically possible. In the end, my prediction actually came true and since then, that moment has always fed into this notion inside me that I knew what I was talking about when it came to politics.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself deeply embroiled in the culture wars, as the conservative media dramatically refers to them. Of course, by culture wars I refer to social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, among others. Obviously, I took on the holy crusade against same-sex marriage even though I am not a man of faith. I took on this crusade because I allowed myself to be manipulated by the conservative media and because I again made a prediction - this time based on fear - that turned out to be in direct conflict with reality, though it would take me many years to realize that. My divine prediction was that same-sex marriage would lead to the downfall of civilization.
So I picked up the sword and joined forces with the National Organization for Marriage as a mercenary. I was offered what seemed like a large sum of money on a monthly basis to continue to do what I had already been doing for free, but to do so secretly on behalf of Brian Brown and company. So I took their checks and embraced my role as an official propagandist, for I knew that the information I was sending out was not exactly truthful. But it did feel good to strike at the militant homosexuals much in the same way it feels good to a child to watch their older brother or sister get in trouble.
Thousands of dollars later, I found myself touring the country in the flop of a nationwide marriage tour we spent about a hundred thousand dollars on logistics alone. It was my idea. I pushed it. Brian loved it. It got funded. It failed. It did succeed at one thing, though: it opened my eyes to the reality that had remained so deeply hidden by the media-fed hate which blinded me as I wielded my sword: gays and lesbians are no threat to civilization and according to the Constitution, which I so revered as a conservative, they must be treated equally under the law.
Resignation. Public apology. No man's land. I was a traitor to the right and a defector to the left. Either way, no one to be trusted. Good. You know what that allowed me to do? Pursue my own passions outside of activism which had been kept on the back burner. Now I'm an environmental scientist, aiming for a better, cleaner world, and starting a new online science magazine to feed my passion to write. So good. I can be me instead of what the conservative media wanted me to be.
I was also wrong about abortion. I held the absolutist opinion that a woman had no right to terminate a pregnancy. If she was pregnant, it was because she was irresponsible and one thing I hated (and, in fact continue to hate) is how people nowadays never take responsibility for their mistakes. OK, I'm turning 28 on Friday but I'm going to say it: Youth these days. That's all I have to say - you know what I'm talking about. But I was wrong and it really hit hard during that whole Texas Senate fiasco when the Republicans tried to push through their anti-abortion bill which had successfully been filibustered. I watched those Texas Republicans in complete shock via a live stream.
In fact, abortion may well be wrong, too. But the decision to terminate a pregnancy is not, and ought not to be, a government one. It is a personal decision. It is a private decision. A woman - and all of us really - have a fundamental right to privacy. It may not be written in our constitution but this is a natural right, just with the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation, the right to breathe (clean) air, and the right of future generations to a healthy existence. Some of you may have heard that before, or read it before - John F. Kennedy said it in the summer of 1963. For those of you who don't know, John F. Kennedy has always been a hero of mine - just ask my high school classmates.
Anyway, as I close: I am a registered Libertarian today. I left the Republican Party a while back after I came to see how wrong I was about them, too. I've supported the Tea Party. Another mistake. All they do is hate. They hate gays. They hate immigrants. My fiance is an immigrant. I'm ashamed it became clear only after it directly affected me and my family. So in that way, my story is like that of many others. I was a conservative until being conservative was not convenient. It's a big contradiction. Con. Con. Con. That's what they are, that's what they do.
Good to be here.