The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case this morning about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA was a federal act that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 (United States v Windsor), which defined marriage between a man and a woman. Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges the constitutionality of California’s 2008 voter-approved Proposition 8. California voters took away the rights of our LGBTQ community to legally marrying by passing Prop. 8 in November 2008. This negated the California State Supreme Court ruling of May 2008 that overturned the voter-approved statute Proposition 22 (2000), which defined marriage as a union between two people of the opposite sex.
Marriage equality advocates and allies are asking people to upload a red equality logo on social media profiles today and tomorrow. Many of my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram friends have already done so. Usually my posts are about community issues; however, the fight for marriage equality and the rights of our LGBTQ community qualifies as a community concern.
Do you know many of our LGBTQ teens are bullied at school because of their sexual orientation? Did you know that suicide in the LGBTQ community is higher than any other community because of the shame we feel about who we are? Do you know that there are many states that do not protect LGBQT people from work discrimination, and that 30-plus states have banned LGBTQ folks from marrying the person they love? It is unconstitutional and shameful.
Back in the summer of 2008, a handful of young political activists, including myself, participated in a conference organized by the California Young Democrats. The main topic of that conference was how to defeat the upcoming battle and threat that Prop. 8 posed to our families. When I returned home that fateful day, I knew it was time to tell my mother one of my biggest secrets ever: I am gay.
She was so supportive and continues to be. I never planned on telling her, because I feared I would lose her and my family, which I know has happened to many in our community. I was wrong. I am closer to my mother and family more than ever before. I love you, mom, and my entire family.
Throughout my years organizing for human rights, I have met some of the most wonderful mentors. I deeply admire Judy and Karin Rickard’s fight to include LBGTQ bi-national couples in the latest push for immigration reform. Karin is British, and Judy cannot sponsor her to be a citizen because same-sex marriage is not recognized at the federal level. I also deeply admire Clark Williams and his husband, Jim Moore, for being the best fathers they can be to their beautiful daughter, for being role models for our LGBT community, and for being true public servants in our community.
I deeply admire my friends Jon D Agostino and Darrel Young, from Philadelphia, who married in San Francisco in 2004 and again in Los Angeles during the summer of 2008—prior to the passage of Prop. 8 later that year. They are proud to be one of the 18,000 same-sex couples legally married that year and eventually moved to California to live in the state where they were married. Jon and Darrell settled in San Jose, where they continue to reside, pay taxes and contribute to our community. Their experiences led them to create the March Fifth Fund, a charitable foundation to support the work of anti-discrimination efforts and programs around the country.
We all hope that Chief Justice John Roberts looks stands on the right side of history. Our LGBTQ community consists of doctors, teachers, dentists, mechanics, business owners, and nonprofit and community leaders of all causes. They are also mothers, fathers, uncles, brothers, sons and daughters; all dedicated to raising wonderful productive human beings for our society. Our LGBTQ community is just as diverse as the general population. Go to the San Jose Pride festival and you will see the incredible diversity of our community.
Our society has evolved and will continue to evolve. The latest Washington Post poll has concluded that 58 percent of all Americans now support gay marriage. The time is now for peace. The time is now for justice. The time is now for progress. The time is now to legalize same-sex marriage. The time is now for us, and our nation’s highest court, to end discrimination.