A special thanks go out to SDWNY VP Kitty Lambert-Rudd for planning the event, Jamestown Council President Greg Rabb for attending and speaking and everyone who came out and participated this evening!
During the program, I spoke on the non-partisanship of Marriage Equality. My prepared remarks are below-- we hope, if you are able, to see you tomorrow night at 5:30PM in Niagara Square as we continue our vigil for equality!
Light the Way Remarks; Tuesday, March 26, 2013
"'Gay rights are human rights. And human rights are gay rights' declared Hillary Clinton, as United States Secretary of State, to the United Nations a few short years ago. Speaking on behalf of President Barack Obama’s administration, that moment—“human rights are gay rights”—was a monumental moment in America’s history. We the people, through the leadership of President Obama, made a serious commitment to take the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people seriously; as a matter of both foreign and domestic policy.
These last few years have seen the culmination of the work of so many years by so many. When Proposition 8 was passed in California in 2008, and human rights were dealt similar blows across these United States, much seemed so hopeless. But we were not deterred. As Dr. King said, “the moral arc of the universe is long… but it bends toward justice.” Since Prop 8, since a majority was able to deny civil rights to a minority in California, our community and our allies have become stronger, and achieved victories we always knew possible. And the LGBT community could not have done this alone.
As the head of the Stonewall Democrats of WNY, a Democratic civil rights organization, I am proud of my party: the Democratic Party. I am proud of what my party stands and fights for. I am proud that my party considers me as a gay American every bit as equal as any other person. But what makes me all the more proud is when I see the issues of my party transcend partisan politics—because they are above partisan politics.
Here in New York State, we showed the nation—and the world—how civil rights victories are achieved. With our Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, our Republican Senate and Democratic Assembly—we showed the nation what you can do when you work in a bi-partisan manner, for the people. We have Marriage Equality here in New York not only because of the Democrats. And we have Marriage Equality here in New York not because of the Republicans. We have Marriage Equality as New Yorkers because of the Democrats and the Republicans working together in order to deliver a government truly by the people and for the people. New York showed when we passed our Marriage Equality bill through that divided legislature that civil marriage rights for all is a non-partisan issue. On the wave of historically soaring approval rates, national figures on both sides of the aisle have shown us what we knew all along: the idea that every woman and man is created equally, and should be treated as such under the law, does not belong to the Democrats, the Republicans, or any one group. It belongs to us all.
In recent weeks, much has been made over Rob Portman, the Republican Senator from Ohio, coming out in favor of Marriage Equality. And perhaps that is because his simple act—supporting the civil rights of his gay son-- says it all. As more and more of us live openly and proudly, and demand from our government that our families be treated equally under the law, we are heard. Our families hear us, our friends hear us, our representatives hear us and our children hear us. And when we are heard, we are not denied our place in the world. When we are heard, our families, our Senators, our Presidents take up our cause alongside us. And when that happens, great things are possible. When we are heard, our state legislatures protect families. When we are heard, we win referendums and votes on equality. When we are heard, we are free to create families and live our lives with the protections of any other. When we are heard, we send a message to every LGBT youth out there that they are real, valued people who will be treated fairly by their government. When we are heard, we can begin to create justice for Edie and Thea and the countless American families who have been denied equal rights and protections throughout our history. And when we are heard, we have leadership—of all gender, race, class, creed and party affiliation—our true leaders hear us, and stand for us.
Whatever decision the court reaches, there will be no single solution for the inequality of LGBT families. If DOMA and Prop 8 are ruled unconstitutional, legislation will have to be passed to repeal the whole of the DOMA legislation. The patchwork of civil rights laws that exist throughout our states will have to be made equal. Legislation will have to be passed at the national and state level to ensure that LGBT people be free from discrimination; equal in human rights, marriage, employment, tax and immigration law. But when the court decides our families have a right to be created and treated equally, it will make the work ahead –for both parties—all the more possible. I thank you all for your time, for coming out tonight and being a part of what it is to work together and light the way to justice. Thank you. "