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A gay dad’s open letter to the man who refused to eat while gay couples married

Monday, January 6, 2014

These past few years may end up being known as the years of “Conservatives Behaving Badly.”

At the end of last year, the Republicans in Congress conducted a massive foot stomping, pout-out and shut down the government because they did not get their way on the previous healthcare bill. In the state of Utah, conservatives were shocked when the justice system intervened on the subject of marriage equality.

Now, we have a couple of adult size tantrums playing out publicly.

One is scary thug tactics. A group called The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association has called for an “uprising” against same sex marriage.

The other is by a man named Trestin Meacham who refused to eat until he gets his way and marriage equality is again banned in Utah.

His original intention was for the state to declare nullification, but he currently seems satisfied by the Supreme Court temporary stay of the marriages. He stated, “You can start a blog and you can complain on social networks until you’re blue in the face and nothing will happen, but actions speak louder than words and I’m taking action.”

As a gay dad, I am familiar with both these “actions.”

The first one, by the “Sheriffs,” has a clear name, pure and simple: “bullying.”

They plan to intimidate their prey into submission through a combination of threat, insults, and mob action. Just as we turn to school administrations for bullying strategies, we need to call on Utah authorities. They need to react immediately to the promise of subversive action or run the risk law and order being severely undermined.

LGBT citizens have the right to not be subjected to harassment and need protection.

The second “action” is one that has been deployed by each of my two sons in their infancies. They each tried belligerent refusals to eat, accompanied by tears and screams, over something they wanted but were not getting.

It is a challenge that I think most parents face when our lovely darlings turn into single minded, willful forces of nature with which we cannot reckon. However, reckon with them we must.

The method that has worked for me has been one of positive discipline.

First rule of this approach is that the object of the child’s tantrum may not, under any circumstances, be granted. If it is granted, you have set up a permanent pattern of behavior and you are the one who has been “trained” by the situation.

Second rule is a firm objective delivery of the situation to the child, but without allowing your own feelings of frustration, anger or sense of futility to be integrated. Scream back, and you lose.

The final rule is to not abandon the child even though he is as close to channeling Linda Blair in the Exorcist as you have ever seen. So, through the tears, firm stance and not reacting, you also communicate your love and affection. I know that doesn’t sound easy. It’s not.

In this gay dad’s opinion, Mr. Meacham’s actions fell squarely into the second category. I bounced the situation off my son Jesse (age 11) for a quick reaction.

Me: Hey Pal. Here is a guy who is refusing to eat until the government does what he wants them to do.

Jesse: Really?

Me: Yeah. Really. I’m writing him a letter. What should I tell him?

Jesse: Tell him it never works. I know. I tried it. You never get what you want and you lose your video games.

Here is my open letter to Trestin Meacham from a gay dad perspective:

Dear Mr. Meacham,

I am probably an example of the last person on earth you would like to be hearing from right now. I am a gay dad with a same-sex partner, who is raising two sons, adopted as young infants from foster care. I fight for the dignity of families like mine, and protection of the children in them, for their legal and ethical rights.

I realize that your mission is to “nullify” families like mine out of existence, or at the very least, to disappear from view, stripped of protections or recognition.

The purpose of this letter is not to tell you that we do exist, and we will not go away, but rather, to give you feedback on your recent state of self-starvation.

In your blog you state, “This has nothing to do with hatred of a group of people. I have friends and relatives who practice a homosexual lifestyle and I treat them with the same respect and kindness that I would anyone.”

The Massachusetts Supreme Court stated that whom one marries signifies one of the greatest acts of self-definition an individual can make in life. I would love to believe your sentiments as you state them, but your actions say differently.

Starving yourself to prevent your fellow citizens from marrying is not respectful. Leaving our children without social or legal standing is not kind. Your reference to specific relatives as “practicing a homosexual lifestyle” is dismissive, superficial and, quite frankly, rude.

With your recent intent to starve, you did exactly what both of my sons have attempted at times. They each have tossed away their dinners when they were not going to get their way over something. It is not OK for them to do that, and it is not OK for you to have attempted it either.

The fact is, you are not going to get what you want. Equality is an important value, and it is the key ideal for which our country stands. Your religious freedom is another important value, but in order for you to have it, your LGBT neighbors must be equally free to practice their own religious convictions, otherwise it is not freedom at all, it would be the imposition of tyranny.

You currently appear to be ordering pizza based on recent twitter posts, but should the next court decision start marriages up again, it is unclear if you will re-instate your fast. I am hoping you don’t.

What you are doing in this fasting activity, in a rather bizarre way, in your adult tantrum, is to take a human being hostage and threatened harm.

The fact that you are both the hostage taker and hostage in this situation is almost beside the point. You cannot be allowed to succeed due to your behavior, not because your ideas are wrong (as obviously, I think they are), but because your action of harm is wrong in itself, and we as a society, cannot reward it with fruition.

As another thinking, breathing, loving human on the planet, I care about you. I do not want you harmed and would like to see you healthy to argue your, albeit misguided, ideas yet another day. I sincerely think you need to be in protective custody.

If you take this much further, I can only hope people around you make those kind of arrangements.

I sincerely wish the best for you, but without you harming yourself or your LGBT neighbors. I hope you reconsider your actions and make a healthier choices through out this process.

Ideally, rather than starving yourself, I would rather you not only eat pizza, but go out for a pizza with my family, or a family like mine. Get to know those whom you seek to “nullify.” I would like you to see the love, respect and joy that we share. I would like you to see that real family is bigger than the Constitution, bigger than Utah and not worth fasting over to prevent.

It may be time to grow up and broaden your horizons. Better to do that on a full tummy.

Sincerely,
A Dad

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106 more reader comments:

  1. So beautifully written, thanks for sharing

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:29pm
  2. The man will be starving again really soon. This stay is only temporary… you can’t tell me that one of the 900 plus couples won’t take this to SCOTUS as a national case.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:30pm
  3. Trestin Meacham will probably say “I have many gay friends.” And we’ll all say, “No, you don’t.”

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:31pm
  4. I'd love to know who'd still consider this guy a "friend" after a stunt like this.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:29am
  5. Guess the Supreme Court was worried about 1 idiot Mormon dying of starvation when so many other Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from…

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:33pm
  6. I am sure that had nothing to do with it. They are following proper decorum.

    Replied on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:35pm
  7. well said.

    Replied on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:38pm
  8. he was probably just trying to fit into some spandex

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:21am
  9. Joseph =)

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 2:26am
  10. I’m just sad this guy didn’t starve himself to death.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:33pm
  11. I really don’t care about that man that refuses to eat.. So what! Starve to death! One ignorant fool less. Who cares!! That idiot needs to Grow up!

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:34pm
  12. Well said.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:37pm
  13. Nicely done. Our “lifestyle” is one of love and family just like anyone else…Nothing more.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:37pm
  14. B3 bigots behaving badly

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:37pm
  15. This is so sad, my best friends are gay,married and have 7 kids and another on the way, yes they have condition where they carry their own children, but these are wonderful people that I will set down and eat with any time.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:39pm
  16. People are starving for real reasons and then we’ve got this dumbass purposely starving himself over gay marriage? You’ve gotta be kidding me

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:40pm
  17. oh pls! d lad simply wants attention. and he seems to b getting it.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:45pm
  18. I love this. Definitely worth a read.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:46pm
  19. What a beautifully written letter. He is a better person than I.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:53pm
  20. Me too, I would let the jerk starve himself and win the Darwin award.

    Replied on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:25pm
  21. Well said, Dad!

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:55pm
  22. he won’t starve to death .. i bet $20 somebody saves his sorry ass…

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:56pm
  23. right on point, as usual :)

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:56pm
  24. Very well written!

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 9:59pm
  25. People that “protest” too much are normally the ones stuck in the closet themselves !

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:00pm
  26. GJ “A DAD” GJ

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:09pm
  27. Worth every word

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:16pm
  28. I live in Utah and heard an interview on the radio with him this morning. He is 35 and engaged. I believe he is Mormon. Thirty five and not married? Whaaat? Closet case.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:18pm
  29. From this former closet Queen, yep, he's oh-so-closeted.

    Replied on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:31pm
  30. Trestin Meacham …. like chicken little with a bad attitude

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:24pm
  31. So very well said by the gay dad.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:26pm
  32. Sounds like he is really describing the democrat cry baby, excuse makers, and we didnt know party…waa waaa waaa

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:26pm
  33. Your comment is nonsensical. What is your point?

    Replied on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:10pm
  34. Powerful words

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:30pm
  35. I wish all people against gay marriage wouldn’t eat as long as gays marry that way they will all die :)

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:35pm
  36. isn't that the trueth maranda then we wouldn't have 2 deal with there bigotry and stupidity

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:05pm
  37. Well written

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:40pm
  38. Maranda Sharon Holley. I’m totally with u. Let the bigots die off.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:40pm
  39. Shared in Utah!! hope that guy reads it. And I hope the stay is stopped. This is all a bunch of BS and now we have hundreds of gay couples that had the chance (and took it) to get married. what will happen to them now?

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:46pm
  40. So, he basically wimped out. Instead of going through with his threat, he got so hungry that he decided to compromise rather than to honor his own vow. Hope he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:55pm
  41. Bravo!! What a fabulous letter. Good for him

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:55pm
  42. This world and people

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:56pm
  43. Well written letter, great statements

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 10:56pm
  44. The selfish little bastard is only hurting his family and others who love him. He is eventually going to use valuable time and resources of hospital staff and EMT’s that other people could be using.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:01pm
  45. Exceptionally well written letter. Right to the point and filled with compassion and common sense. Adults who act like children to get their way seems to be the norm these days. Let us not reward that type of childishness.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:07pm
  46. A letter every for everyone

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:18pm
  47. The fact that he’s 35 and still not married say a lot about the idiot.

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:23pm
  48. Refused to eat… Wait what

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:47pm
  49. OHH my bad XD

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:47pm
  50. Very well written :) I approve whole heartedly with every word!

    Posted on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:50pm
  51. He should be allowed to starve to death.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:09am
  52. Good i hope he doesn’t eat,he is only hurting himself.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:26am
  53. Very well said, sir. <3 to you and your family.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:30am
  54. I admire the dads maturity but who knows, maybe all the idiots starving themselves to death is the most efficient way to solving the equality problem lol xD

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:45am
  55. This man basically threw a big temper tantrum…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:46am
  56. Let him starve to death…who cares?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:46am
  57. That was well worded. It seems like the issue in the future will continue to be people against equality failing to see that religious liberty is something that everyone deserves and if a gay person says that marriage for them is part of their religious identity (or secular identity) that they are entitled to it as well. Freedom of religion means that you are entitled to practice how you wish in your own life, not that you have the ability to dictate what others can and cannot do as part of your religious doctrine.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:47am
  58. The guy’s not hurting anyone but himself…..happy starving while you claim to be a martyr, dude.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:48am
  59. Why can’t this country just learn to love each other regardless of ones sexuality? There are way to many serious problems facing this country! Sexuality is certainly not one of them!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 1:03am
  60. That kid Jesse is brilliant!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 1:10am
  61. Mr. Meacham is either not old enough to remember or is conveniently forgetting what happened in this country in the late ’50s-early ’60s. I lived in Alabama at that time, and was ashamed and saddened every single day. But guess what? The country got over it. It’ll take a few more generations to erase racism and homophobia, but eventually clowns like this guy will die off, and their children will have to contemplate their parents’ legacies.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 1:25am
  62. Beautifully-stated…especially the last paragraph…Thanks for sharing, Paolo.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 1:31am
  63. I love that this dad was very nice in his letter and yet he called that “misguided” man out!!! Beautifully executed :)

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 1:38am
  64. Love it!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 2:10am
  65. Very said Lizz Clements

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 2:38am
  66. Beautiful

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:02am
  67. let ‘em starve. I don’t care what the issue is, I HATE hunger-strikes. why should others care whether or not this man eats? it’s called ‘your rights.’ if you don’t wanna eat, be my guest.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:03am
  68. WOW, I wish everyone could read his letter.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:19am
  69. Awe

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:21am
  70. the phrase”conservatives behaving badly” annoys me slightly. i am fairly mixed on my stances, but tend towards the conservative side tbh. and i am gay and in favor of equal marriage. on the other hand, i have known a few friends in the past that would say they are liberals, who feel that marriage is sacred and only between man and woman. so generalizing phrases like this that clump people together tend to annoy me…end of rant

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:25am
  71. Starving himself is his choice. Go for it!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:41am
  72. Amanda, I appreciate your take on the situation. Sometimes I get fired up and overstep my bounds. Thanks

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:43am
  73. What a great, classy letter this awesome Dad wrote!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:46am
  74. I think it would be a powerful message if all the ignorant Utahans went on a hunger strike, they would prove once and for all whether or not hate and ignorance can be a source of sustenance.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:48am
  75. Hurray for this Dad…beautifully written and to the point. shame on all those who are so narrow minded.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:52am
  76. Ironically, this is what I recommended to my community when the whole Chik-Fil-A fiasco was going on. I told them, “Why don’t you guys invite glbt folk over, offer to pay for their meal, and get to know them better.” They didn’t listen, and yet, this supposedly “sinful” man, is offering to love his neighbor despite the man’s views about him. That’s love.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:12am
  77. Well done, dad. To the idiot who threw the tantrum. .GTFU!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:30am
  78. in Utah so much energy..money….angst over the central preaching of the Theocracy…love one another. Like most other things here…if you are not of the local faith…it makes no sense. this man was willing to starve because of a thing that hurts no one. beautiful letter…I wish it would be read by people who need to read it

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:31am
  79. What a great article and letter!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:50am
  80. That man wants to starve cause hes seeking attention. Hes trying to meddle into something that doesn’t concern him.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:15am
  81. For the record, a baseball bat smashed firmly upside the head of those seditious sheriffs will shut them up better than anything.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:40am
  82. what gets me are these homophobes who accuse gays of pushing an agenda, the only agenda gays have is to be treated equally, to be allowed to marry who they love, to live their lives without being judged, it’s the homophobes who have an agenda

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:53am
  83. Ahmmm what’s the problem with him not eating again?…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:59am
  84. Yayy dad!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:29am
  85. I thought to apologize for my family as we work through the issue of marriage equality in The States. We are a loud and raucous bunch and we love a good discussion. We take up a lot of time and space and oxygen and it’s hard not to get caught in the crossfire. I was a little embarrassed by the circus and sought to build bridges within my family with kindness but have once again warmed up to the cause and I’m not to proud to admit how grateful I am for your support in both word and deed. You inspire us. We love you all.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:36am
  86. I think that thumbnail picture sums it up pretty.well.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:49am
  87. A realization that someone needs to grow up. Sad that he won’t.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:18am
  88. Who really cares if that idiot starves himself to death. I don’t. I’ve seen a lot of hungry, homeless kids that were kicked out of their homes for being gay. Screw him. Let him die a horrible death for being a bigot.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:27am
  89. That letter was just amazing. That father is beyond respectful, kind, and tolerant even when others are not. I wish the man who is starving himself well, as I also don’t wish harm on people. I hope that fathers note touched that man and made him reconsider.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:38am
  90. @Thomas Harris:
    You really shouldn’t be like that. You have to reach these types of people with open arms and educate them about different lifestyles. You can’t be rude to the opposition, because that doesn’t get us anywhere.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:39am
  91. let the gays live….their life

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 9:58am
  92. one word…starve

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 11:14am
  93. Id love to know if this beautifully crafted letter had any impact.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 11:17am
  94. Google –divine revelation of hell,by mary k baxter! In her vision,God showed her the end times,and what happens to the perverted! They were chained together,as they writhed together in the lake of fire! folks,dont bash the gays and lesbians,pray for them,help them find forgiveness through Jesus,before they face eternal damnation! Love the sinner,but hate the sin!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 12:53pm
  95. …course, true to liberal form, it starts off bashing conservatives. Same story different day.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:04pm
  96. Starve Then…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:05pm
  97. Let the dumb ass starve!!! Have to love stupidity

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:38pm
  98. I admire the author of the letter BUT, the guy fasting will refuse to hear anythings in the letter. Let him suffer the pains of his own bigotry. Especially since its self imposed. He may have a vision fro God that tells him he is one f’d up dude and to get over himself. Starve the gay away is a really goofy plan… maybe he is really trying to starve the gay out of himself.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:44pm
  99. That’s my New Year’s diet out the window. I’m going to continue to eat, drink and be merry while this is going on!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:54pm
  100. Great letter written with love.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:12pm
  101. Let the fool starve.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:39pm
  102. Brilliant.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:04pm
  103. Isn’t it interesting that so many hater/bigots start their rants with “I have many gay friends”? Whatever!!! NO they do not…..anyone that s a friend would not stand by and watch their friend hurt, but that is what happens each time these people are considered as relevant to the LGBT rights issues…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 9:27pm
  104. If someone’s that stupid to not feed them selves because other people want to be happy I say that’s his right let him starve for stupidity!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 9:29pm
  105. Starve away, “hey you gonna eat that?”

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 10:41pm
  106. Great! I am hoping he will starve!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 11:24pm