For those who have fought for LGBT rights for decades, it’s mindboggling that as of April 5, a majority of the United States Senate now supports same-sex marriage. All but three Democrats along with two Republicans, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), have joined the list of supporters with more than seven issuing statements of support in the past week alone.
The time has come for the Democratic hold-outs — Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) — to get on the right side of history. They alone make it difficult for the LGBT community to donate to the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) because there is absolutely no reason to see our money flow to those three candidates who don’t support our full civil and human rights.
While thanking the 54 supporters, we must at the same time ask them to not only talk the talk but to walk the walk. There should be at least 54 senators co-sponsoring the Employment Non Discrimination Act. If they agree that we should be able to marry, then surely they believe we should be able to work. We should ask them to sign a letter asking President Obama to issue the executive order banning discrimination against the LGBT community by federal contractors. We need them to stand by their beliefs and sign onto the Respect for Marriage Act and say that gay and lesbian marriages like those of heterosexual couples are recognized in other states.
As support for marriage equality spreads, there are posts on Facebook asking what organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) will do if we get all these rights. We need to remind people to look at where society is with regard to securing rights for minorities and women and how important it is to be vigilant. You can win rights but until you change the hearts and minds of all the people, or at least a huge majority of them, we will always be fighting to maintain those rights. Consider some who call themselves our friends, like local D.C. Council candidate Patrick Mara. He still worked for, supported and donated money to candidates who pledged to continue the fight for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This is a candidate who said he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would likely rule that same-sex marriage wasn’t protected by the constitution and to overturn Roe v. Wade. This is someone who calls himself a friend; we will always have to beware of such “friends.”
We must continue to encourage more members of the LGBT community to run for office across the nation and support them. As Barney Frank said, “If we don’t have more seats at the table we will continue to be on the menu.” We need those like Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and candidates like Christine Quinn who will be the first woman and first lesbian mayor of the City of New York to speak out for our rights.
As we await the decisions of the Supreme Court on Prop 8 and DOMA there is much we still need to do. The decisions will likely leave us far from being full and equal participants in the American dream and there will be much left to accomplish to form that more perfect union we all want.