Marriage Matters – a personal story

by Randy Tarkington
Campaign Manager, Vote NO on 1

So this column is not about talking points. It’s not about making sure I am on message with the words of the day. It’s far more personal. It’s about why marriage matters to me and why you should spend time thinking about what it might mean to you. For me to understand why it matters now, I have to look at who I am today and how I got here.

I am a native Tennessean, born and raised in Centerville, a town of about 3000. At 45, I grew up before “Will and Grace”, “Queer as Folk,” or internet sites where I could daily talk to other gay men.  In fact, I was in my 20’s before I met my first positive gay role model. I was at least 22 before I ever walked into a gay bar. My gay development was definitely affected by my environment.

I am single. In fact, I am so single I think maybe if you look up the definition in the dictionary, you might find my picture. So why then is marriage so important?

It took me longer to come to terms with being gay. It took me longer to understand that who I am is profoundly influenced by the fact I am gay. I was late breaking out of my closet doors but once out, I vowed never to go back again.

So today, I have reached the point where I know who I am. I know I deserve to love and be loved just like every other human on this planet. I know that I deserve the same rights as every other person but more importantly, I deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect.

I cannot predict the future. However I realize that I may never walk down an isle and profess my love for someone else. I may never get the chance to be repaid for all those wedding gifts I have given to others and like every gay man, I give great gifts. I may never have to make the decision to take time off of work to care for the person I have committed my life and love to because he is sick.

However, I should not have that right taken away by the State or its citizens because of unrealistic fear or religion or any other reason. I have worked too hard to find who I am as a gay man. For that reason, I will not let this discrimination happen without giving all I have to fight it.

My mom died of cancer when I was a senior in college. She fought a courageous four year battle that probably should have lasted about two years at best. I know she left me with that stubbornness and strong will that sustained her fight against an awful disease. Growing up, I remember hiding my head in shame when we would have to literally hold her back from storming the field to take on a referee who had not made the right call in her eyes to protect my brother Richard who played high school football. Today, I am forever grateful for that fight and strong sense of what is right that she passed on to me.

If I allow our Constitution to be altered to say that I do not have the same rights as every other person in this state, what does that say about how I really feel about myself? If my marriage rights are taken today, what rights can be taken away tomorrow?

I walk down the streets of Nashville and I wonder if the person I just passed believes that I should be denied the same rights that he has. I wonder if he believes that my love is somehow inferior to his. I feel my mom’s sense of fairness rise in me and rather than storming the field to take on these referees of my life, I fight on a bigger level to educate them. I know in my heart that when good people meet me and meet you and know that our dreams and hopes are the same as theirs that it will be so much more difficult for them to step in a booth and vote away our rights. At the end of the day, I believe that fairness is an important value to the people of this state.

So marriage matters to me. It matters so much. I have battled long and hard to come to where I am today. It has been a long and difficult journey but at the same time a very joyous one.  I also know that thousands before me dedicated themselves so that we could be poised today to be treated equally and fairly. Whether you plan to marry tomorrow or never plan to marry, this issue should be important to you. After many years of searching, I now know some important truths.

I matter. You matter. Fairness matters.  Marriage Equality Matters.

Go to to find out more.
Photo by Tanushree Rao on Unsplash

Pride Travel Guide

Pride Month is a time of celebration and solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community, and what better way to immerse yourself in the festivities than by visiting some of the best destinations for Pride events? These cities offer vibrant parades, festivals, and a rich history of LGBTQ+ activism. In this Pride travel guide, we'll explore the nine best places to visit for Pride Month and links to pride organizations in each city.

New York City Pride

crowds of people celebrating the Pride parade in NYC.NYC Pride Photo by Josh Wilburne on Unsplash

Keep readingShow less
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

HIV progress with treatment plans.

By Dr. Thanes Vanig, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Spectrum Medical Care Center

I saw my first case of HIV when I was a medical student in Bangkok, and it was incredibly sad. I compare the beginning of the HIV epidemic to the COVID-19 pandemic when the disease was an alarming mystery. Patients were locked up in their rooms. We had to wear gowns, gloves, masks, a suit, and full personal protective equipment, just to see them. We were afraid of what we didn’t know.

Keep readingShow less
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

National Pride Grant money

The LGBTQIA+ National Grant allows eligible small businesses to receive one of 25 grants totaling $25,000. Founders First is committed to increasing the number of diverse founder-led companies generating over $1 million in revenue and creating premium-wage jobs. To be eligible, the company's founder must identify as LGBTQIA+, have an active U.S.-based business, be the CEO, President, or owner, and employ between 2 and 50 employees

SAN DIEGO (PRWEB) May 06, 2023 -- Founders First CDC (Founders First), a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that empowers the expansion of diverse founder-led, revenue-generating businesses alongside TurningPoint Executive Search, is pleased to announce that the inaugural National Pride Grant, a grant fund to support U.S. based LGBTQIA+ small business owners, is now open for pre-registration.

Keep readingShow less