This week marked the 3rd anniversary of my tenure at NCLR. This anniversary has another significance for those of us in the Bay Area: I started this job the same day California introduced a mandatory shelter-in-place order due to the global COVID pandemic.
The pandemic punctuates the way many of us have experienced the past three years. Because the pandemic and my start at NCLR happened at the same time, for me, it has served as a reminder that we are inextricably interconnected, a demonstration of the principle that we are all in this together. Just as our health is tied to each other, so is our fight for justice. Justice only exists when we all have it. So we have work to do.
That is a sentiment that I’ve often returned to over the past three years.
And as hard as we work, we still struggle to get it right. Too often we treat critical bricks on our path to liberation as detours that only impact some of us. Voting rights matter to all of us, not just those of us confronted with the worst suppression efforts. Our democracy only works when we can all be a part of it.
Everyone would be safer with officers and systems that are designed to protect all of us, not just some of us. Every single young person should be able to play sports and receive the medical care they need. Women and people that need abortions should have access to them and the ability to make choices for their own bodies.
Our education system would be stronger for every student if we could talk about LGBTQ people in schools and if students could learn the true history of slavery and racism in this country. Justice isn’t piecemeal. It can’t be cut into smaller pieces and rationed out. When it is, we all lose.
Because when justice is for all of us, that’s when we get it right.
Following an effort to pass nondiscrimination protections for nearly 50 years, we saw the Equality Act pass in the House of Representatives. The coalition we built eventually helped the successful passage of the Respect for Marriage Act into law.
We’ve won cases that have protected our community – allowing transgender girls to play sports, for children to get the medical care they need, and keeping our schools safe for LGBTQ families and LGBTQ people. We are served by an administration that is proud to be the most pro-LGBTQ administration in our history – a reminder that more than 8 out of 10 people in this country support protections for LGBTQ people.
So even when our opponents attack our community by introducing a record-breaking number of hateful, discriminatory bills, I have the same clarity today that I had three years ago:
We’re on the right side of history. And we’re going to win.
Just this week NCLR and our partners at Kaplan, Hecker & Fink LLP filed an appeal on behalf of individual plaintiffs and Family Equality to reverse the court’s order dismissing our challenge to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay and Trans” law. There will not be a time that our community won’t see us fight for all of us – and we will do it again. And again. And again.