Friday, October 24, 2008

To discriminate or not to discriminate?

After a nice, frivolous post about gigantic hats, it's time for another serious post. The election is only twelve days away (though we already voted. Yay!) and as you probably know, it's not big hats that are foremost on my mind. I'm only trying not to inundate my blog with politics. A nice ratio of frivolity to politics must be maintained! But today's a politics day. I'm going to write about gay marriage. Thankfully, this has not been trotted out as a major wedge issue in this election -- with one huge exception. Californians have to vote on Proposition 8, the "Protect Marriage" initiative which would amend the California Constitution to specify that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

I don't know that I would have written about this issue if I had not happened upon a blog post in support of Prop 8, written by an earnest young Mormon woman in California, who sincerely did not believe that what she was espousing was discrimination. She wrote:

"Please understand that I do not discriminate against same-sex couples. I feel everyone has the right to choose what they want to do. But for religious reasons, I believe that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, and nothing else."


discrimination = treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.

Anyone who is against gay marriage, it is your right to believe whatever you want, but do not be deceived by church rhetoric that this is not discrimination. It is the very definition of it. By telling yourself you support civil unions but not marriage, you might feel righteous and open-minded, like you have resolved an important conflict between civil liberties and religious beliefs, but you have resolved nothing. You are discriminating. And yes, my presidential candidate and his running mate espouse the same discrimination, and this bums me out, but the fact is: because of the pervasive religiosity of this nation, a president can not WIN who favors gay marriage. That is what sickens me most.

However, I am very proud to say that our Democratic Senate candidate, Jeff Merkley, supports gay marriage. Not just civil unions, but marriage.

I imagine that people like the young woman who wrote that post cannot understand why the gay community is not satisfied with their tremendous largesse at being willing to allow them civil unions. Why is this not enough? Why must they agitate for marriage?

I'm not going to try to answer this question for the gay community, but I am going to answer for myself, as a married person who is not religious. What is marriage to me? It is the highest expression of love and devotion one human being can make to another. It is powerful. As George Eliot once said, "What greater thing is there for two human souls that to feel that they are joined for life?" This is human and highly personal; it is powerful. To me, it has nothing to do with God. Whether you are religious or not, marriage is an extraordinary commitment of love and trust.

If you are against gay marriage: who are you to tell anyone else that their love is only worth a "civil union"? If you are voting for Prop 8, you should imagine your single vote as keeping a couple from making the ultimate commitment of love to one another. Casting a vote in privacy, it goes too easy on you. You should have to stand up and object at a wedding, perhaps a wedding between lesbian life partners who've already spent forty years together and raised a family. You should have to stride to the front of the church and stand between them, tell them they don't deserve it, and while you're at it, tell them how much better you are, how much more righteous and entitled. Marking a ballot is too easy; it's cowardly. To take away someone's rights, just like that?

Why should any potential bigot get to cast a vote on another person's civil liberties at all? This shouldn't even be on the ballot. What do you think would have happened if voters were allowed to decide on interracial marriage back in 1948, rather than the Supreme Court of California? For the record, 60 years ago the California court found in Perez v. Lippold that interracial bans on marriage violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. But it wasn't until 1967 that the US Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia finally struck down all race-based restrictions to marriage.

As with interracial marriage, gay marriage should not be a matter of public opinion, but of civil liberties -- to be decided by courts based on the document wherein our freedoms are written and guaranteed. That document? Not the Bible, people, but the Constitution.

However, Prop 8 is on the ballot, and 77% of funding for the "Yes on 8" campaign is coming from the Mormon church. I know there has been a vocal contingent of Mormons who have opposed their church's involvment in this issue, and I commend them for their willingness to speak out. I can only imagine it isn't easy. And of course, it's not only Mormons and other religious groups who will vote Yes on 8, it's all manner of folk who think their personal beliefs should govern others. Some relevant quotes by Mark Twain:

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."

"In religion and politics people's beliefs are almost always gotten at second hand, and without examination."

Marriage is a human instititution and predates Christianity. Why then should Christianity be the arbiter of all marriages? We are not all Christian, and in America, we should not be beholden to the church for our freedom. And that is certainly not to say that many gay and lesbian Americans are not Christian or do not want a Christian marriage ceremony. I would just suggest that the churches decided for themselves whether they will allow the marriages within their own institution and not try to influence laws and enforce their own beliefs on all Americans. Because when churches enforce their beliefs through law, that is theocracy. Saudi Arabia has that. Malaysia has that, and I just read that Malaysia is trying to outlaw tomboys because girls dressing like boys is against Islam. Who do we want to emulate in our liberties?

So please, if you are in California, vote against putting discrimination into the California Constitution. Vote no on 8.

By the way, immediately after reading that Pro-8 blog post, I made a contribution to the Human Rights Campaign, which works for GLBT equality.

And to lighten up the mood a little in parting, a last Mark Twain quote:

"I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him."


[Updated to add a link to this beautiful post about love and family. Which made me think. I've been ruminating on a post about what it means to me to be liberal. Does anyone else want to write a post about what it means to them to be liberal or conservative? Say, Tuesday? Anyone?]


tone almhjell said...


There is nothing that I can add to this, my friend, except perhaps the observation that if the right to marry were purely a religious matter, and thus to be decided by the congregation, who should feel free to follow their conviction on their own turf, then what on earth is it doing in a political election?

Anonymous said...

I am a Mormon, and I am very much for Prop-8 (though I don't live in California). So, I'll give another side, hopefully respectfully:

About becoming a theocracy: Morality and religion is not synonymous. Religions can validly make statements about moral laws without even attempting to be a theocracy, because they are endorsing a specific moral fabric of the society, not a specific religion. Religion is about specific religious beliefs and worship, and we are only a theocracy when religion tries to enforce religion, not when religion tries to enforce morality. Morality can and should exist independently of religion and be enforced by the government.

Mormons are not trying to force their beliefs and their religion on anyone. Your lifestyle is your choice. But your laws are my laws too. And what they are attempting to do is keep the moral fabric of society from disintegrating, something that is within their responsibility to do. We should attempt to design laws that they thing are the best for them and for the society in general. Because those laws belong to all of us.

Marriage is an essential moral characteristic of all society, primarily because marriage is the institution that is responsible for raising children and having a family. Children need a father and a mother. And, marriage, to the Mormon church, is one of the most wonderful things about this life. To be married in the temple is to receive the highest blessing that we can here. We hold it sacred. We think marriage is part of morality in a society. Redefining it takes that moral part, that good part of marriage, away.

I am discriminating against a behavior, yes, I will agree. But we can discriminate against certain behaviors all the time.

So, that's why I think like I do.

Stephanie Perkins said...

GO LAINI!!!!!!

THANK YOU!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I cannot fathom why anyone would deny the rights to a lifetime of happiness and love for two consenting adults.

Yes yes yes -- any way you look at it, say it, rephrase it, a ban on gay marriage is discrimination.

(And to hwalk, with all respect, any child lucky enough to have TWO caring parents -- regardless of their gender or sex -- is lucky indeed! May I recommend either of Dan Savage's delightful books, The Kid or The Committment? I'd also like to add that the "behavior" that makes one straight is the same as the "behavior" that makes one gay. It's just *there* from birth. Please correct me if I am wrong, but at the end of your comment, it sounded like you were describing homosexuality as a choice...)

Anonymous said...

You always have a choice, but you can choose to behave right or wrong.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Hwalk, that is a very eloquent defense of discrimination. More well-thought-out than other arguments I've read, but still discrimination. Homosexuality is not "a behavior" any more than heterosexuality is, any more than race or gender are. It is part of who a person is, and you are setting yourself up to decide who can be allowed to BE, and who cannot. That's scary stuff, and in the extreme it leads to very bad outcomes, like genocide.

If you're going to defend marriage as a sacred institution, why not address all the terrible heterosexual marriages, the cheaters, the divorces, the abuse. And. . . who says a child must have a mother AND a father? If you take that opinion to the extreme, you could justify taking children away from single parents and "redistributing" them to two-parent households.

The fact is, there is vast diversity in the notion of what makes a family, and setting a church up to decide, well, I take your point about the difference between morality and religion, but who decides what's immoral? You think a loving same-sex relationship is immoral. I don't. Who says you're right and I'm wrong? Your church? Oh. Sorry, I'm unconvinced.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

This is a great post. One thing: It's not just Christians who have opposed gay marriage. Intolerance is linked to some other religions, too.

To the Mormon: Homosexuality is not a "lifestyle." It is a life. No one chooses to be gay, and science has demonstrated real brain differences between people who develop attachments to same-sex partners. In any case I honor the love and commitment of same-sex couples just as much as heterosexual ones. I love others as I'd like to be loved myself--an idea I got from this swell fellow named Jesus.

I have many gay friends who are married and raising children. Their love and marriage and families are just as valid and wonderful as mine. To deny them legal status would tear that fabric apart. It wouldn't do a thing to help, save or otherwise support my marriage. Anyone who opposes gay marriage is doing active harm to people who love each other. I don't know why you'd spend a minute of your life that way.

Amber Lough said...

Wow. This topic is heavy enough to give me a headache. I hope that all Californians will continue to be allowed to marry, regardless of how their brains were configured in utero.

BTW, "they" now say that sexuality depends on which types of hormones are flowing to the baby during pregnancy. In my case, since I'm having a boy, if I don't produce enough testosterone, then he will be naturally predisposed to be gay. Seems like fuel for a sci-fi book, to me!

Laini Taylor said...

Hwalk, I want to tack this on (not to gang up on you; thanks for having the guts to be a visible voice of your church's stance here in this post): you say that marriage is the institution responsible for having children and raising a family. Well, this right is not in dispute to gay couples. They DO and CAN have children and raise families under civil union legislation (and without it, if they have to). I'm talking about MARRIAGE as a symbol of commitment and love. Even the Mormon church, surely, is not challenging the right of gay couples to raise children. That's not what we're talking about here. And if "marriage" as you see it is merely a protection of biological rights. . . and if gay couples are already raising families. . . then what are you protecting? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

First, from the Family, a Proclamation to the World (,4945,161-1-11-1,00.html, read it to understand LDS views) "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

Read more on that about the church's moral view of the family.

Second, I will agree that some people are born with those tendencies. Being born with those tendencies is not wrong in our church at all. We do not say it is wrong.

But I'm born with a lot of tendencies, like I'm lazy. That doesn't make the behavior and lifestyle of lazy right.

Making the choice to follow those tendencies is morally wrong. And there are people who do not choose to live that lifestyle even if they were born that way.

Anonymous said...

your time would probably be better spent helping people who really need help, say, domestic abuse victims, child abuse, etc...It is fascinating to me how many so-called religious people get so up in arms about unborn children, but yet actually do so very little to help people after they are here, whether they are straight or gay, poor, etc. I think Jesus would be horrified at what people spend their lives focusing on and doing in his name. Jesus hung out with prostitutes, was a community organizer (the very thing Palin tried to demonize in her convention speech)..meanwhile the Republican party, which has been hijacked by the Christian Right, fights against paying more taxes even in a time of war, when btw, the Bible itself states you are supposed to give a whole lot of alms and all. Hwalk, if you are so deeply religious, wouldn't your time be better spent volunteering at a domestic abuse shelter than further stirring the pot of discrimination and human abuse laws?

Lizdee said...

Gay couples cannot have children. At least not biologically. And that is why gay couples make absolutely no sense in my mind. A husband and wife biologically can form a child, and than they raise that child. Forget religion, even morality for a second. Just look at biology for a second. Marriage is the social institution that encourages this natural biological arrangement--as it should. Society has a responsibility to provide for itself in the future, and that means making people for the future. We make people between a man and a wife. And so we have marriage. No Gay couple can have biological children. And so they have no place in marriage.

tone almhjell said...

Oh boy, hwalk.

Finding love in your life is not giving in to 'a tendency', it's something wonderful.

You do realize that we're talking about love here? Caring for another person, choosing that person above all others, working hard to keep the relationship strong, breakfasts in bed and Sunday walks before dinner, worrying about each other's health and making each other go to the doctor, picking out birthday presents, writing messages and leaving them on the mirror in the hall before you go to work? Sharing all joy and grief and growing old together?

I just thought you might have forgotten or misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

I have one more thing to say, and then I'm done:

I don't need to defend every point, though I could. However, I would not convince anyone.

What is right and true is worth standing up for. This is not a matter of the best argument for me. I sincerely believe, with my whole being, that I am standing up for Truth, and what is right. No matter who or what comes against me, no matter what people say, I know in my mind and my heart what is true. It is worth fighting for. And if my beliefs are trivial to you, know that I believe them with my soul. My beliefs about family have brought me the greatest joy in my life. Primarily, I want to uphold those good things that I have felt and experienced--a mother, a father, and the blessings that marriage between a man and a woman have given me.

My knowledge and beliefs are so important to me that I will do whatever I can to uphold them. That is what is about for me.

Laini Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laini Taylor said...

Hwalk, thanks for your comments. I see you are deeply indoctrinated in a worldview of intolerance, and you feel good about yourself for it. It makes me sad when people who don't sound evil or cruel embrace intolerance with a smile and a chest thump of moral rectitude. Your beliefs aren't "trivial" to me; they are disheartening.

And Lizdee, you must, then, be opposed to adoption and fertility treatments, because clearly if a woman is biologically unable to conceive a child, God doesn't want her to have one?

Some gay couples are co-raising their own biological children from previous hetero relationships; others adopt, just like hetero couples; still others take advantage of the same fertility "technology" as hetero couples. What's your point? Since when is physiology the fundament of morality and liberty?

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand how the government has any right to tell the American people whom we can or cannot love and / or marry.

This country frankly scares me a lot of the time.

This religious hatred and their wish to live ina protected Christianity bubble where they only have to see people who look and think like them is frightening.

Thanks for this post Laini! I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have ranted about this.. ( amongst other things!)

I am soooo glad that Camille thinks of gay love and marriage as totally natural! yay! There may be hope for her generation at least! :)

Keep up your feisty nature! LOVE IT!!!


Stephanie Perkins said...

"And Lizdee, you must, then, be opposed to adoption and fertility treatments, because clearly if a woman is biologically unable to conceive a child, God doesn't want her to have one?"

Sha-ZAM! :) Right on, Laini!

Lizdee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laini Taylor said...

Lizdee, I'm going to leave your comment up because I think we all need reminders that people like you are out there, not just in, say, the ranks of the Taliban, but here in our own country. Please do not come back. Your hateful bigotry is not welcome here.

Alysa Stewart said...

As someone who would vote yes on 8 if I lived in CA, I am interested in your thoughts on the following Defense of Traditional Marriage written by a friend and former neighbor of mine.

Laini Taylor said...

Alysa, I'm so sorry to hear this of you. I'll look at the link when I have a little more time.

Anonymous said...


Like you, I am heterosexual and lazy. I could probably do something about my laziness, but if someone were to tell me tomorrow that my heterosexuality was immoral, there is nothing I would be able to do. I can't change that. It's not merely a tendency, it's who I am.

I'm also not clear on why you think heterosexuality needs protecting. Child-producing marriages between men and women will continue to be available to anyone who wants them. After this election is over, you and I will still be able to enjoy our happy marriages. I will be just as happy with my family if 8 is defeated as I am today. Come on, we lazy people need to stick together. Are you with me on this?


Charlotte said...

Hi Laini,

viz the "if they have civil unions, why do they need marriage too"-- does a civil union carry the same legal weight as a marriage? I have friends who got married in Massachusetts, but here in Rhode Island, one is not entitled to the benefits afforded to all other spouses because that takes a marriage that RI recognizes...

So (here in RI at least) there is pretty big and important practical reason to want gay marriage to be like any other...

What I don't understand at all is why there are people who think that this will somehow hurt them...

Alysa Stewart said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm sorry to see friends disagree on issues I feel strongly about, too. Anyway, I don't expect you to change your position, but rather wondered what some of your thoughts after reading this piece would be. Cheers!

Laini Taylor said...

hi charlotte,
I don't actually know what rights are or aren't afforded by each; it's a good question. I was mainly addressing this particular blogger who asserted she wasn't discriminating because she DID support civil unions and hence "equal rights" (but not marriage).

Alysa, :-)

Anonymous said...

From a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.

Feelings are another matter. Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of “nature and nurture.” All of us have some feelings we did not choose, but the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts or to engage in sinful behavior.

Different persons have different physical characteristics and different susceptibilities to the various physical and emotional pressures we may encounter in our childhood and adult environments. We did not choose these personal susceptibilities either, but we do choose and will be accountable for the attitudes, priorities, behavior, and “lifestyle” we engraft upon them.”

Ensign, March 1996

J.M. said...

THANK YOU FOR BEING AN ALLY. Thank you for being a person aligned with a just world. You didn't have to write this post. Many people who are in positions given priviledge in a heterosexist culture know they don't have to speak up. Thank you for your creativity, humor, logic, wit, heart and the whole grab bag in the range of truth that allows people to be appreciated and be different. We can seek to understand and that does not mean we must agree.

As a biracial (black/white) lesbian rasied by a single mother who will be the first person to graduate from college, this election means exponentially more to me than any I can imagine and millions of other young maginalized people will be severly affected by its outcome.

I have loved your blog for some time and always thought you seemed a sparklerific classy lady but the way you have spoken out recently is particularly impressive and the dream of a civicly evolving country.

I don't know if I'm making sense but..just, thanks for being you & thanks for respecting and appreciating my rights to be me, too. You were already my YA s/hero but now you're an adored ally.

Peace and sparkles, Martine

Afton said...

I feel like I need to say something, but am hesitant because my beliefs are clearly in the minority in this discussion. It seems like the cry of "discrimination" is a little hypocritcal, however, because there is a lot going on in this discussion: namely, the discrimination of people who don't believe the way you do.

I'm sure there will be a well thought-out rebuttle of my comment but it seems that by choosing one side you are discriminating against the other.

Why is it ok to discriminate against people of religious faith but out of the question to discriminate against anyone else. (Except the Taliban, of course. They suck. And the KKK. We should definitely discriminate against the KKK.)

Afton said...

Well, that's just I'm an indoctrinated fool AND a poor speller. It's just not my day.

Alysa Stewart said...

P.S. After you read it, if you'd rather post reactions on my personal blog ( than here, it might be a better forum, just because there aren't already 30 comments. Either way. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being courteous Laini. I am a mormon and I agree with hwalk wholeheartedly. I read your blog nearly every day even though I do not agree with your political views. I am glad that you have kept the discussions polite and that you allow people with opposite views to express them. Also the frivolity ratio helps:). My gratitude for frivolity has multiplied in this world of political elections and heated discussions. Yet the time has come to take a stand.

I believe in God. I believe He is the creator of all things. I believe that He created men and women for a purpose. We were sent to this earth to learn to follow Him. He has given us guidelines through his scriptures and when we follow them we find true happiness in this life and in the world to come. Joy beyond measure and peace that is true and lasting.

When I think of love I think of marriage between a man and a woman. A mother and a father who love each other and honor their marital vows. A man and a woman and their children. That is what our society has been based on for over two hundred years. I fear that a change in this basic moral doctrine will not only weaken America, but ultimately help to destroy it.

That is why I would vote yes on both prop-8 and prop-102 if I could.

Sorry if this has been terribly long. Thank you for your time.


Deirdre said...

I keep coming back to read this post and all the comments people have left here, and I have to add my voice too.

Next year I'm getting married to a man I adore, one who stands by me through hard times and makes me laugh out loud every day. No one questions our love or the merging of our lives. Not only will we share the rights that come with marriage, but we'll shoulder responsibility for each other as well. One day next summer we'll make promises to each other and society will accept those promises. Our community will wish us the best and celebrate with us.

This is marriage: two people fall in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Marriage is both a contract and a promise to do that. I wish that for any two people who love each other.

It breaks my heart that a whole segment of society is denied the opportunity to make the same promise. It angers me that there are people who would ensure they never get the chance to fulfill that promise.

I also know that if someone is truly vested in their belief that homosexuality is immoral there's no amount of reasoning that can change their mind. And that's okay; to each his own. It's just that their focus on other people's private lives is kind of, well, unseemly. They're putting an awful lot of mind time into things that aren't any of their business.

I'm voting no on 8 because it's what my conscience tells me is right and compassionate.

Wyman Stewart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tone almhjell said...

To voice different opinions, to disagree and to seek to convince the other part has nothing to do with discrimination.

Being denied the right to marry has everything to do with discrimination.

I understand that those of you who don't agree with Laini (or me) on this issue feel that Laini's blog is not the perfect environment to voice your views. She retorts, she cuts your arguments to pieces. And though this might make you feel bad, you must remember this: A personal blog is something quite different from a newspaper or any other public medium. This is Laini's sphere of thoughts, dreams and frustrations. We, her visitors, are just that: visitors. When she invites us to comment on a post like this, we must do that as honestly as possible bearing in mind that we are visitors. Sneering, whining, smirking is not only bad argumentation - it's plain rude.

But this is a difficult topic. Both camps feel that the right of it is crystal clear. I can never agree with the other side that being gay is something wrong or filthy. They can probably never agree with me that being gay is just like being heterosexual, a highly personal matter that we have no business agitating against or legislating on.

Knowing this, I think it's kind and brave of Laini to invite us to share thoughts. She really is a very cool person. Thanks, Laini.

tone almhjell said...

And Laini, I would write that post on being liberal and conservative, but for you, my position in Norway would not shed much light on the matter. Here's a quick why, and I apologize for the aside: Instead of two parties (to speak of), we have seven big parties and several small ones, and they mostly form coalition governments.

Your democrats share many of the same opinions as our moderate right wing. We really only have one party that would correspond to the republicans in terms of right and left (though not really, since religion does not play a big role for them): Frp. Frp is considered a party for those who think more about themselves than about others, and none of the other parties will go into a coalition with Frp. I'm sorry, but it's true.

We do have a Christian party. But they (and right they are) want to spend much more money on public goods and safety nets than your democrats, since they believe it is Christian to take care of people who need it.

Anonymous said...

I'm envious of Tone, who gets to live in a country where more Christians act like well, real Christians, where we instead get Sarah Palin, who refused to call people who bomb abortion clinics, and kill people in the process,
domestic terrorists.

I know a gay family whose parents have been together two decades, through cancer and all sorts of challenges, and then went on to take in their nieces who were being abused by their legally wed parents. The idea that this gay couple who so clearly honor and sacrifice for each other and their nieces should not be able to marry, while the nieces' abusive parents can so freely, is abhorrent and simply unacceptable. One thing I know for sure, if I ever have children and something happened to me, I'll take a great gay couple to raise them any day of the week over having them be forced to live with Hwalk and her crowd.

Reuven said...

I prayed to JESUS about this issue. Here's what he told me!

cindy said...

i am not religious. i don't view marriage as anything to do with religion. it is about love, and choosing life partners. just because the gay population is in the minority does not make them WRONG or DEVIANT. even if many in the majority would like to think so.

marriage also is NOT about having children. i know plenty of straight couples who choose not to have kids. or cannot have kids. if it's about having kids to you, or being man and woman, that's fine. but don't let your own perception of what marriage SHOULD be prevent someone else from this right.

to me, marriage is not about "morals" imposed on others. it's about love, commitment and rights. and i fully support my LGBT friends. <3

Anonymous said...

hwalk, thank you for your comments and for standing up for what you believe!