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What it means to be an American



An open letter to the mayor and Colorado Springs City Council:

I haven't ever written a public letter to any elected official and up until a few days ago, had you asked, I could not imagine a chain of events that would provoke me to do so.

I am a Republican, some would say a bit to the right of Attila the Hun; I am a retired (from active duty) Airborne Soldier and Jumpmaster, and Master Blaster. I am a Christian and. I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Yet, I am, also an American, a citizen of the freest country on this planet and I am deeply offended by what I consider not only to be un-American activities of the elected officials of our fair city. More than that, your behavior can best be described as despicable, prejudicial and bigoted beyond belief.

Your recent decision to withdraw benefits from some city employees whose lifestyle does not fit your understanding of the Judeo-Christian ethic is ample evidence of your total lack of regard to the Constitution of the United States and the very basic concept of what we all are about as Americans.

I have no problem with each of you having your own personal views, be they religious or otherwise. Yet, when you accepted public service you incurred an obligation to stand for, to fight for and to defend the United States Constitution.

Our country was founded by Pilgrims. Yes, they were very religious and they were also persecuted and fled to America in order to worship in their own way. In spite of our forefathers' devout belief in their Christian God, in their own infinite wisdom they founded a country, wrote a Declaration of Independence, and carefully crafted a Constitution where Church and State were separated. What is it about this concept that you do not understand?

When any of us, regardless of our own beliefs, allow fear or public sentiment to compromise the concept of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, then we are all somewhat less free as a result. The very concept of a Republican Democracy as a form of government places a sacred trust upon the mantel of the majority, and our elected representation, to ensure that they protect the rights and freedom of choice of the minority.

One's religious beliefs, race, ethnic background, sexual preference or lifestyle is simply not the issue. What you have really done is to have said, "If you do not believe as we do, then you are not entitled to employee benefits." Think about it, regardless of how righteous you may think you are: You are violating the very religious beliefs and moral code that you espouse. Did not Jesus himself protect a harlot and challenge those without sin to cast the first stone? You are not even being true to your own beliefs.

As elected officials of a wonderful city, in the heartland of the freest nation on this planet, as our soldiers. sailors, airmen and Marines serve in harm's way, how can you justify such un-American activity? The issue is not one of whose values are right or wrong, the issue is one of freedom of choice and to live your life privately as you may desire.

Our forefathers were unable to live up to the very values they espoused, yet at least they were honest. Yes, they kept slaves. Women couldn't vote and even white men without real property were denied the right to vote. Yet, in spite of all of that, they framed a Constitution and a judicial system that would eventually ensure that all Americans could exercise their rights as free citizens.

I sense that each of you is acting sincerely and from your own heart, yet what you are not recognizing is that your concept of a marital union is driven by your own personal religious beliefs. That is the point, and in a land that cherishes self-determination and freedom of choice, it simply is not appropriate.

Patrick Dean Kirby is a retired Army first sergeant who served 20 years of active duty. He lives in Colorado Springs.

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