Today, America is closer to being a country that walks the talk of “Equal Justice Under Law.” After last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in our Tennessee marriage case (one of four cases before the Court), striking down discriminatory state marriage laws and affirming our freedom to marry, millions of families are more equal and secure. Today, in every corner of this nation, every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender person can take a deep breath and walk a little taller.
The ground has shifted and, for the first time in history, same-sex couples who wish to marry enjoy full equality under the law.
Justice and love won.
I know that you made sacrifices for this moment. You risked family, friendships, livelihood, belonging. You insisted on living your truth and that meant living authentically regardless of the consequences. You are now vindicated.
NCLR has been in the fight for your equality since 1977. We stand on the shoulders of so many who came before.
In the wake of the Court’s ruling, I asked NCLR founder, former San Francisco Superior Court Judge Donna Hitchens what thoughts she wanted me to share. She said: “The Lesbian Rights Project (the precursor to NCLR) was formed in 1977 to bring children and family issues to the LGBTQ civil rights agenda. But, I never dreamed we would see this victory during my lifetime. I am so proud of Kate and the staff of NCLR for what they have achieved on behalf of all of us. They are courageous, tenacious and bold. Today, our families matter.”
Roberta Achtenberg, who followed Donna as NCLR’s leader also shared her thoughts: “This ruling impresses upon me the impact the children of our LGBTQ families had on this conversation. They were the ones in the discussion of these cases who humanized our movement in the hearts and minds of the nation. They ensured that everyone saw that LGBTQ mothers and fathers are loving parents who foster families. Thank you to my own son Benjie, and to Kate and Megan and Ruthie and all the other children of LGBTQ families who were our inspiration in this long fight.”
Our charge at NCLR is now to harness this moment and capitalize on the momentum, visibility, and electricity to assure that the embrace of justice is felt by everyone in our community.
We know that LGBTQ people live in every community and are present in every demographic. So as long as racism blooms and economic inequality festers, our people suffer.
From attacks on transgender women of color, to the shocking number of LGBTQ homeless youth, to police misconduct, to the denial of parenting rights or recognition, to conditions in detention centers, prisons and jails, to even the basic right to get and keep a job, to refusals of service or attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity through conversion therapy, and so much more, the daily reality for many is fear, isolation or stigma.
Much of this is work we, and many other organizations, have been doing for years. We were always involved in a range of work for our community because we know we do not lead single issue lives.
You know this. You have stood with us every step. You are why we are here. You are why we won.
But we now have a more structurally sound scaffolding to build a new America for every LGBTQ person and beyond. This is a once in a movement chance to alter the future for every successive generation.
Let’s do this!
Kate Kendell, Esq.
NCLR Executive Director