Thanks to the hard work of many, many people – some of whom are no longer with us – I was able to marry my longtime boyfriend in a small civil service in California last week.
This is just a quick diary to thank some of the people who helped pave that road to legal protection of same-sex marriage.
And it’s followed by a request…
…to the generations of queers prior to the 20th century who had to live in secret; to Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs, who kick-started the modern era by speaking out publicly about gender and sexuality; to other early pioneers like Adolf Brand, Oscar Wilde, Emma Goldman, Mikhail Kuzmin, and many others;
…to Alfred Kinsey, who made it possible for human sexuality to become part of public discussion without the usual moral stigma; to publishers like Edith Eyde and Ruth Ellis, and writers like Richard Bruce Nugent;
…to the early organizations that formed in the face of impossible odds – groups like The Society for Human Rights, the Mattachine Society, ONE Inc., the Daughters of Bilitis, Vanguard, the Street Orphans, and many more;
…to the people who assembled at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1965, the nation’s first gay rights march;
…to the members of the transgender community who rioted at Compton’s Cafeteria in 1966, refusing to allow themselves to be humiliated;
…to the 1969 rioters at New York’s Stonewall Inn who fought for dignity against a police raid, effectively launching the movement into the consciousness of the general public;
…to the men and women who ran for public office when being queer had no public support: José Sarria, Franklin E. Kameny, Kathy Kozachenko, Elaine Noble, Harvey Milk, Gerry Studs, and many others;
…to the 100,000 who participated in the first ever National Gay Rights March on Washington D.C. on October 14, 1979;
…to Mildred and Richard Loving, who in 1967 forced the federal government to recognize that marriage is an issue of basic civil rights;
…to Richard John Baker and James Michael McConnell, who sued for marriage rights back in 1970; and to Nina Baehr, Genora Dancel, Tammy Rodrigues, Antoinette Pregil, Pat Lagon, and Joseph Melillo – plaintiffs in the first successful lawsuit in 1996;
…to Hillary Goodridge, Julie Goodridge, David Wilson, Robert Compton, Michael Horgan, Edward Balmelli, Maureen Brodoff, Ellen Wade, Gary Chalmers, Richard Linnell, Heidi Norton, Gina Smith, Gloria Bailey, and Linda Davies, who in 2003 successfully sued the state of Massachusetts for full recognition of marriage, and won;
…to Gavin Newsome, who issued marriage licenses even when it was illegal to do so – which led to the court case legalizing marriage in California;
…to the openly gay public figures who speak out to let people know that being queer is not a crime and does not warrant second class status – to politicians like Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank, or athletes like John Amaechi and Sheryl Swoopes, or any of the actors, singers, directors, producers, and otherwise high profile media personalities who’ve helped encourage mainstream acceptance of the queer community;
…to our dedicated allies, including many of you at this site, who’ve joined us in this fight for basic civil rights.
And none of this is counting the scores of people, groups, and movements that took place in other countries, achieving successes sometimes earlier and more permanent than our own, and helping fuel our movements back home.
In the end, all I can say is that I am profoundly grateful to too many people to count, and that I will never forget that I owe a debt of a gratitude to them – and a heavy responsibility to continue the fight for others: we still have plenty of work to do in the areas of employment nondiscrimination, fair housing laws, open service in the military, etc.
And a Request:
If I can be so bold, I’d like to request a wedding gift from the community here:
If you’re in the state of California, please talk to your friends, family, and neighbors about Proposition 8, the attempt to ban marriage that will be on the ballot in November. Let them know that a Yes vote on the Proposition will eliminate marriage for thousands of couples.
If you are not in the state of California, please consider donating to one of the groups who are fighting against Proposition 8 (some possibilities include NO on 8 and HRC’s California Marriage PAC); or helping defeat a similar ban in Arizona, where the pro-marriage crowd is desperately behind on fundraising; or getting involved in the effort to prevent the ban in Florida; or supporting similar groups in your own area. Write an LTE to your local newspaper, send an email to your elected officials, and make your voice heard.
Issues like same-sex marriage live or die on the perception of pubic support. The more you talk about it, the more acceptable you make it.
My husband and I would greatly appreciate the effort.