This is my first column as a Co-Chair, and I desperately want to lie out the plan for this year. But I know that the year’s activities ¬- for this Club, for the LGBT Community, for those who believe in equality – are not yet planned. This month, March 2013, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Windsor and Perry cases. Then we wait. As we near Pride – June 30, 2013 – our wait ends. Or does it?
Marriage is not the only issue facing our community. To the contrary, we have so much work to do. Until men and women are truly treated equally, until the income gap is closed, until the glass ceiling is shattered, Lesbians will continue to be disproportionately impacted. We have so much work to do, within and without our Community, to end the disproportionate discrimination faced by the Transgender Community. Men of Color are disproportionately at risk in the AIDS/HIV pandemic. Our young people are at greater risk of suicide; our seniors – who paved the way for us – are often excluded entirely in our discussions of our Community. Yes, there is much work to do.
But this year, Marriage will take center stage. If we get the big win – DOMA declared unconstitutional in Windsor, and the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage – nationwide – declared unconstitutional in Perry, what a party we will have. If we win in Windsor, some of us, those of us lucky enough to be in marriages recognized by the States, will have the federal rights and benefits, and dignity, afforded our straight counterparts. What a huge victory this will be for binational couples facing the harrowing choice of deportation or separation. A “narrow” victory in Perry, one that recognizes that the unique harm done by Proposition 8 in California such that it is unconstitutional, will be a huge step toward full equality. But anything short of a complete victory will result in a short-lived celebration. We will be called to get back to work. To secure the fundamental right to marriage equality for the LGBT Community throughout the country. Working to gather signatures to get something on the ballot. Or building coalition to pass a proposition placed on the ballot by the legislature. Doing everything we can to secure the rights as broadly as possible.
Marriage will take over the year, one way or another. 2013 will be the year we won. Or it will be the year we get back to work on marriage in full force. This is not because Marriage is more important than the issues I mention above, or many others. Marriage is important not just for the rights and benefits it bestows, but because of the message it sends – we are equal in the law, we deserve dignity and recognition. But the reason marriage will take over if we do not get a full victory is because we have momentum. Marriage equality is coming. Our enemies continue to work – to work hard – to convince people that we are intolerant, and that we are evil, that we are undeserving, that we are taking away their rights, and that we will ruin their marriages. And each day, we need to continue to work to beat them back, and to win over new supporters. It is happening. Everyday, someone who opposed marriage equality comes out in favor of it. Everyday, another heart, another mind, is won. The President of the United States has joined us. The only thing that can stop this is if we stop working. So we have to continue.
2013 is going to be a great year. It is going to be historic. But I, like you, wait to find out in what way. Those two decisions, Windsor and Perry, will shape the year’s activities. Alice will celebrate. Alice will get to work.
Come join us at our next membership meeting. Our new District 7 Supervisor, Norman Yee, will be there to meet you and introduce himself to those who do not yet know him. Our City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, is coming to share with you our City’s efforts on marriage equality, including a discussion of the upcoming Supreme Court arguments. Our new District 5 Supervisor, London Breed, will be there. Come, be part of the conversation. Then come back and be part of the celebration, the work, and the history.
Ron Flynn, Co-Chair Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club