April 27, 2004
written by Evelyn Halteman Brown, Gary Halteman's mother - part of the April 27th packet to state legislators

Dear Legislators,

My name is Evelyn Halteman Brown and I was born in Dublin, Ireland. One of twelve children, my parents were strict Catholics. We were a poor family but nobody ever knew that. My mother, having only a little money, would go to out of town church fairs to buy old sweaters for a penny, and bring them home to mend them. She would do the same with dresses she purchased at the fair as well.

Since my father worked long hours, my mother would always have hot food on the table and a warm home. I was a little girl and did not see much of my father. He would leave for work early in the morning while we were still sleeping and return home when we were all in bed. Sundays were the only day that we got to be together. This was always a very special day as that was the only day that we all went to church and had Sunday dinner together. I would later come to understand that those long hours my father worked were necessary to care for all of us. Back then, nobody ever knew we were poor for fear of discrimination.

At 20, I went to London, England to find work, as at that time, there was no work in Ireland. I was forced to leave my native land. Three of my brothers were already working in London in the catering business.

While in London, I met my late husband Lee Halteman. Lee was from Pennsylvania and was stationed just outside London with the US Air Force. We had three children while in London. Their names are Rick, Michelle, and Gary.  Lee got discharged in England and got a job with the American Civil Service. In 1973, as his time in London was finished, he had to report to Pease Air Force Base in Newington, NH. Lee was such a proud American and was so excited to bring us all over to his country. Our youngest son Gary was only 6 weeks old when we came to America. He was a very special baby to us as we were not to have any more children after our second child. He brought so much joy into our life. He was our beautiful special baby.

Then came that dark cold morning of December 18, 1980. Just six days before Christmas, Lee had a heart attack and died. He died before he even got to the hospital. Here I was in America with three children, ages 14, 12, and 7 and I didn’t even know how to drive. I had no family here. Lee’s brother came from Pennsylvania to be with us and to take Lee on his last journey home to be buried with his mom and dad. We returned back to NH so that we all could be together for Christmas, in the home that we had just bought one year earlier. After talking with Rick and Michelle, I decided to stay in the US. That is what they wanted and that is what Lee would have wanted. It was the biggest challenge of my life and I really did not think that I could do this but I did. I managed to put all of my kids through Catholic high school and college. They are all fine adults.

Gary is a very special son and that is why the good Lord sent him to us. He has always been my comfort, my protector, my everything. He was always an A+ student from kindergarten through college. His goal was to be a successful person and to take care of me, a promise he made to me when his father died. He worked two jobs in high school and three jobs in college in large part to help me.

When I found out Gary was gay over ten years ago I refused to believe it because I was scared and frightened for him. I knew in my heart that he would not be given the same protection and rights as other citizens in this country. My hopes and dreams were the same for all of my children. The last thing his dad or I would have wanted was for Gary to be treated as a second-class citizen. Gary is a successful businessman and a respected member of society in Salem, Massachusetts.

As a legislator you have a solemn obligation to protect and ensure equality for all citizens without prejudice. That is why I pray the good Lord will guide you when you cast your vote. You should vote to protect Gary’s rights, and to not take away what has already been granted.

Thanking you sincerely,

Evelyn Halteman Brown

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