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
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
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.