CNN: Gay life — Change and challenge

. . . Sharon, who grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma, has a saying about the reaction of the religious in her home state: “In Oklahoma, I have more people praying for me than with me.”

In one instance, the couple applied for membership in a Lutheran church in Oklahoma. Though they were eventually accepted, it was only after much debate and an unprecedented vote by the elders of the church.

A couple of years after they met in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Sharon and Tanya decided to make a big move to Massachusetts, which since 2004 has been the only one of 50 states to permit same-sex couples to get married legally. More than 8,500 couples have done so, including at least one couple from Oklahoma.

They did so for at least three reasons. First, both wanted to adopt the son and daughter that Sharon had adopted as a single parent.

Second, Tanya was a police officer and says she started having problems on the job because of her sexual orientation.

Third, the couple say they wanted to “validate” their relationship.

The were legally married on January 21, 2005, in a small ceremony at the courthouse in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at which time Sharon took Tanya’s last name of Dillard.

Now, the Dillards have decided to move back to Oklahoma — one of 27 states that have passed an amendment to their constitutions outlawing same-sex couples from getting married and denying recognition of such a marriage “performed in another state.”

In doing so, they will be forced to navigate a shifting patchwork of state and federal laws giving them different rights in different states.

But they say they want their children to be near their grandparents, and Sharon has “a wonderful job offer in Oklahoma,” where she’ll be working as director of oncology services at a university medical center. “We are hopeful that views are beginning to change there.” . . .

I’m glad that they moved back to Oklahoma. They have quite a fight ahead but I do think things are getting much better, at least in Oklahoma City. I think more and more folks in OKC are starting to be supportive of LGBT rights, but there are very few straight allies willing to take a stand. There’s a lot of reasons for this, partly that the homophobia is so bad in this part of the country, that being pro-gay rights will get you labeled as being gay yourself (I know that because I’ve had more than a few folks ask me if I’m gay after reading this blog — I don’t think it matters that much myself, but I’m celibate and heterosexual for whatever it is worth.), or that you’ll be accused of supporting sin or being a “gay-enabler.”

Straight folks have to lose this fear. We must be willing to speak up for the equal rights of all. There were lots of well-meaning liberal white folks in the south who thought that black folks should be treated right, but most didn’t say much for fear that they would be called “n—–r lovers” (my Dad has told me that when he was growing up in the 50’s in an Oklahoma small town that he was told by his classmates that he was a n—–rlover because he said in class that black people should be allowed to vote). Let’s not repeat history.