At a rally under the gold dome of the State Capitol, a YouthPride member addressed a crowd of over 300 fellow citizens about the proposed amendment to the State Constitution. Here are his remarks.
January 30, 2004
The Capitol-Atlanta, GA
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Gregory Arturo Casajuana. I am a member of Youth Pride. My family came to this country 43 years ago to escape the strict dictatorship of Cuba, looking for a home where they would have rights and freedom. They came to the United States of America where they believed they would have those rights for themselves and their children.
In Cuba, it is illegal to be gay. The laws are so harsh that you can be thrown in jail for being gay. In fact, a few of my family members were put in jail because they were openly gay. In this country, my siblings have all of the rights and freedoms that an American should but I do not because I am gay.
Today, a group of Georgia legislators are trying to make the decision to shun a group of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Is that fair to you? To me, that is just WRONG! I may be only 15 but at least I know the difference between right and wrong. I live in this country to be free of oppression; instead, I feel like I live in a jail cell. A jail cell like the one I would live in if my family were still in Cuba.
In the past, I have had to hide the fact that I am gay until I could no longer take it. I started rejoicing because God made me and I should be proud, even if people dislike me for it. The funny thing is that all of these people keep telling me that I am sinning against God. They make fun of me but every day, I follow the Word of Jesus. I turn the other cheek and attempt to ignore them.
My fellow youth and I understand that being gay is not a choice; it is the way that you are born. Why can't adults just live with the fact that gays are everywhere? They deserve the same rights as anyone else. Using a Constitutional amendment to discriminate against a group of people is not only wrong but also unjust. It undermines all the basic American values that we hold dear.
This is not the future that my family envisioned for me. I will not stand by and let this future be created for my fellow youth and future generations. Every day, politicians speak of the greater good for our future youth but they do not seem to understand that I am the youth and I am the future! I am proud of who and what I am!
I hope adults are listening. This amendment must be defeated.