My name is Mike Rhodes and I was born and raised in Del Norte County. I attended local schools, played football under Lewis Nova and have an enormous amount of pride in my community.

I am a combat veteran of Afghanistan, serving in the capacity of an Army Ranger (2nd Battalion/75th Ranger Regiment), who endured two tours of combat for my country and my community. I am currently a second-year law school student at the Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Neb. I plan on returning to Del Norte/Humboldt counties following law school to practice and to educate.

I am openly gay and I know all too intimately firsthand the consequences of growing up like this in Del Norte County and this world. I want no child to have to endure what I did. It is unreasonable.

Based on recent Triplicate letters to the editor, I'm not sure the

people of Del Norte County really understand the issue that is central

to the debate about SB48, the newly passed legislation that among other

things requires acknowledging in social studies classes the historical

contributions of gay people. I would like to help out.

A common characteristic shared by various people, which evokes

hysterical emotional responses from those not possessing the

characteristic, invariably builds a strong sense of cohesion and

solidarity among those in possession. When the emotional responses are

used as a motive to inflict violence, legally disenfranchise, and

socially exclude this group based on the characteristic, the

characteristic itself become germane to the group's existence and its

role in a society.

In recent American history, GLBT people have faced detention for

sexual expression (until Lawrence v. Texas), discharge from service in

the military (until the repeal of DADT), inequity in contracting ability

(excluding six states and the District of Columbia), and prevalent

terror, leading to the formulation of a bias-motivated crime framework,

effecting widespread deterrence.

Based on negative historical attitudes, theological bias and the

manifestation of irrational fear reflected in our laws, it becomes

highly relevant that a group suffers in a unique way because of a unique

characteristic. Combating negative attitudes and incorrect conclusions,

which have produced the hysteria, is a sound method in mitigating the

plight of this class of our society.

The most logical place to start is in public education. The human

mind is most malleable at this point, and like the drill sergeant, the

educator can create the outcome most desirable for the mission. The

mission in our case, in addition to ensuring threshold competence in

reading, science and mathematics, is to produce model citizens who have a

sense of national pride and respect for other Americans who chase the

common dream.

A consequence of exposure to the struggle of others (as a

historically marginalized group that continues to face legal and social

adversity) is that young students will understand the inhumane treatment

endured by this group, identify the inherent unreasonableness

associated with the treatment, and correct policies in the future so

that treatment of this group is consistent with the legal notion of

substantive liberty.

Are one's sexual practices relevant to their role in history?

Certainly not; however, one's sexual orientation is highly relevant to

who/what they are and what legal/social obstacles they must negotiate on

a daily basis. When a group suffers because of these legal/social

handicaps, when the American legal system is actively engaged in

adjudicating relevant claims, and when the best military on Earth is

implementing a new inclusive policy, the issue of orientation/identity

becomes relevant and should be something all Americans are exposed to.

Mike Rhodes is an Omaha, Neb., resident.