My father is wrong on homosexual issues

October 21, 1999|By David Knight

I AM the gay son of state Sen. William "Pete" Knight, a California Republican. Although I'm not politically active, I feel that my story offers insights on the "definition of marriage" initiative written by my father, which is slated for California's March 2000 ballot.

My father has written and pushed a number of anti-gay bills in the California legislature. According to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Center, it is a political and legislative campaign unparalleled in California history. Why is he doing this?

I believe, based on my experience, that his is a blind, uncaring, uninformed, knee-jerk reaction to a subject about which he knows nothing and wants to know nothing, but which serves his political career.

How can I say this? For one thing, he has never discussed my homosexuality with me, and I know that he never discussed the issue with his gay brother, who died of AIDS three years ago.

As far as I can determine, he's made no attempt at understanding the issue. Therefore, I have a hard time with the fact that someone in his position is attempting to legislate discriminatory restrictions on a significant group of people that he has clearly rejected.

Three years ago, I told my father I was gay and that I have a life partner, Joe. From that moment on, my relationship with my father was over. I can't begin to explain the hurt that has come from this rejection.

My father didn't always feel this way about me. When I was at the Air Force Academy, or when he was speaking at my pilot training graduation, or when I was returning from the gulf war, where I flew fighters for my country, my father was very proud of me. His love for and pride in me, I assume, was because I was his son. I am the same son today.

Although I have come to grips with my loss, I am not without a family. My brothers and their families have embraced Joe and me, and we share our lives as most families do (my mother died when I was a teen-ager). I won't say it wasn't a shock to them, but they kept a dialogue going and have come to understand who I am and whom I love.

My father seems to want things to remain as he has always known things to be -- without change. He can't seem to understand that we as a society are growing and allowing more people the opportunity to share in the ultimate dream of happiness. We are expressing our own family values based on the same basic principles that he so fervently protects.

My father's idea of family values is very different from mine. He insists his are right and mine are wrong. I'm deeply sorry that my father feels that he can no longer be a part of my life. I miss him. But I cannot change the person I am, and I must speak out publicly about what I perceive to be his willful, blind ignorance on this issue.

Gay people are forming strong, loving families. Understanding and accepting this will make our communities stronger and safer places to live.

David Knight, a Baltimore cabinetmaker, wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

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