Last year proved to be a year in which the LGBT community and its allies would make further strides toward ensuring the promise of our nation’s credo that all are created equal. Here in D.C., with Mayor Adrian Fenty signing a marriage equality bill that was passed with the overwhelming support of the City Council, we saw another step forward in ensuring equal rights for all D.C. residents. But we must remain vigilant to ensure that our newly won freedoms are preserved.
Opponents of marriage equality are already working to take away our victory here in D.C. We are all aware of the unfounded, untruthful and inflammatory speeches of Harry Jackson and his colleagues, who are already on Capitol Hill spreading lies about our families and asking Congress to take away from us the same rights and responsibilities enjoyed by our heterosexual brothers and sisters in marriage.
Extremist groups such as the National Organization for Marriage have already begun to make automated calls to District residents — stirring up hatred and fear about our families. Having seen their anti-marriage equality campaigns succeed in other jurisdictions, they believe that they can again be successful in the District of Columbia. If we are to be victorious, we must not become complacent.
We have been successful to date in laying the groundwork for a diverse campaign that has the capacity to reach out to communities across the District. The record turnout of citizens testifying for two days in support of marriage equality before the City Council is just one of several demonstrations of our strong support.
We must continue to establish an open and ongoing dialogue with those who remain uncomfortable with marriage equality. We need to simply but consistently speak the truth about marriage equality — that having the government extend equal rights to all does not violate the deeply held convictions of those who oppose marriage equality.
Unfortunately, the National Organization for Marriage along with Harry Jackson and other opponents are saying the opposite about our families. It is up to us to make sure that opponents of marriage equality are not the only or loudest voice that is heard. Our community must continue sharing the fact that marriage equality strengthens our laws, our community and our families.
The District’s LGBT community and its allies have rallied, celebrated and witnessed justice for our citizens on the issue of marriage equality. Now the marriage equality movement needs your help to ensure that marriage equality will become law in our nation’s capital. In ringing in the New Year, I propose that we each make a resolution to our community.
1. Have a conversation with 10 friends or family members about our lives and our families and why marriage equality, or whatever issue matters to you, is important to you and to our community.
2. Thank the D.C. City Council for its leadership and the thoughtful manner in which it went about passing marriage equality legislation
3. Have conversations in your place of worship about marriage equality. For more information about clergy in the District who support marriage equality, visit clergyformarriage.com.
Last year brought us to the brink of making history in the District. What 2010 will bring is largely in our own hands. After ringing in the New Year, we all need to get to work so that there’s plenty more ringing (of wedding bells) next year and beyond.
Nick McCoy is a field organizer for HRC and a D.C.-based marriage rights activist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.