I’m a straight, white man and the struggle for GLBT rights and marriage equality has somehow become my struggle. I have prayed for the right of gay people to marry at my own wedding in 1992 and then worked hard, knocking on doors and making phone calls, and meeting with my legislator in Massachusetts to make sure it stayed a reality when it became law. I have spoken out publicly for GLBT rights in Catholic high schools and in town squares in Texas as a UU minister. It seems I have been at this struggle my entire adult life. I’m not exactly sure how it happened that this cause has become so central a part of my life’s calling.
I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was when I learned about human rights while working for Amnesty International in college. Maybe it was when I went off to Divinity School and learned that at least one third of teen suicides who leave behind notes or letters cite gay issues as the reason for taking their own lives. Maybe it was when I first had gay friends and saw the world through their eyes. Maybe it was when I became a Unitarian Universalist and marriage equality was an article of faith and praxis. It might have been any of these, but the reality is that I joined the struggle, really became committed to it, long ago, when as child, I began to understand the power of equality and justice behind the promise of America.
I began to support GLBT rights and marriage equality the first time I understood the phrase “all men are created equal,” and that I later learned really needed to be understood as “all people are created equal”…”endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” I began to support GLBT rights and marriage equality the first time I understood the words “that to ensure these rights governments are instituted among men (people).”
I began to support GLBT rights and marriage equality the first time I understood the first words of the Constitution of the United States of America: “We the People” and understood that as long as there is an “us” and a “them” in America, there is no WE. As long as there is woman lesser than man, there is no WE. As long as there is black lesser than white, there is no WE. As long as there is gay lesser than straight, there is no WE. Only WE the people form a more perfect union.
I began to be a straight ally before I was old enough to know if I would be gay or straight. I began to be a GLBT rights and marriage equality supporter the day I understood what America is all about. Anyone who understands about We the People and all people being created equal must support gay rights and marriage equality. Anything else is arbitrary, discriminatory, and goes against everything we believe as Americans- all the way back to our founding documents.
The history of America is a history of expanding who is included in the WE the people. Today all across America, ordinary Americans, gay and straight said We Are The People, demanded the promise of those documents be kept, and made anyone who opposed them look petty, mean, hateful and unpatriotic. Good job folks.
Andrew Sullivan has an excellent photo set and quotes from around the country at his Daily Dish.