I never thought that in my lifetime I would live to see the incredible progress the LGBTQ movement has experienced in just the last few months.
So many have been working for decades to reach this moment, but even for those of us doing this work, the gains of the past year have been breathtaking. Gains such as the striking down of a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and seeing the demise of Proposition 8 are tremendous victories for the LGBTQ community and for a nation that prides itself on equality and justice for all.
In practical terms, the striking down of DOMA’s ban on federal recognition of our marriages means tremendous relief for couples in bi-national relationships who now have the opportunity to live united with their loved ones. As we celebrate these and other victories, we must not forget that there are still millions of aspiring Americans — immigrants yearning to breathe free, who continue to seek relief from our current senseless and inhumane immigration policy. They demand nothing more or less than what we as an LGBTQ movement have tirelessly fought for: dignity and respect.
Today, NCLR stands in solidarity with our allies in the faith, labor, civil rights, and women’s movements to call on Congress to vote for a path to citizenship for the 11 million people who still live in the shadows and strive to be citizens. The National Day of Dignity and Respect on October 5th is an opportunity for our entire nation to stand up for and live up to our ideals of justice and fairness for all.
I believe that we now stand on the precipice of making our ideals a reality. Now, we must get beyond broken government and call on our elected officials to step up and lead while heeding the call from the voice of the community. That voice will be heard loud and clear on October 5th as we rally and march together in dozens of cities across the country, united as the broadest and most diverse movement that I have seen in my lifetime, to demand that Congress pass commonsense immigration reform.
No one must be left behind, and any reform must include a path that leads to citizenship and establish rules that promote family unity, protect workers’ rights, end the destruction of our families through deportation and detention, halt the needless and wasteful spending on militarization of our borders, and stop the unjust enrichment of for-profit detention centers.
As we march in solidarity, we must not forget the 1,000 people who are deported every day, many of whom would be able to legalize their status if reform passed. We must not forget that as we march, countless numbers of our brothers and sisters sit in detention centers across the country, enduring inhumane conditions with no assistance, uncertain about their fate. We must also not forget that the fight for immigration reform is about human beings who are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and some who come to this country because they cannot live in their home countries without fear of persecution because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
We raise our unified voices in chorus so that Congress hears our call for dignity and respect loud and clear. We are united in our sense of justice and fairness and our demand that our nation’s promise be not a privilege for the few, but a reality for all those who come here with a faint hope for a better life. This is the nation we aspire to be, the nation that has delivered on its promise for so many, but still has a long way to go toward treating its 11 million aspiring Americans with dignity and respect.