It’s been a good week here at BTL reporting on the LGBT news. Ground-breaking court cases, emerging new leadership, recognition and awards for jobs well done are all covered in this current issue. After weeks of reporting what has felt like a long litany of disheartening setbacks in the state, it is good to report on uplifting and encouraging developments for a change.
We start with the historic Prop. 8 ruling supporting same-sex marriage rights in California. This is a resounding decision that reaffirms that it is unconstitutional in the U.S. to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. Our opponents will most likely try to continue the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court and implore them to overturn two lower court rulings, but for now we can celebrate a major victory. We know that time is on our side. As more states approve same-sex marriage, it will become more and more likely that the Supreme Court will eventually rule in favor of equal marriage rights. Leaders like Evan Wolfson at the Center for Marriage Equality and the lawyers who fought so hard on our behalf deserve to celebrate – and to be celebrated for this historic achievement.
Closer to home several new, young and exciting leaders are profiled this week. Royale Theus is creating change in his role as an HIV/AIDS activist and educator, and he is modeling compassionate leadership skills in his personal life. The GSA members at Troy High School and their adult leaders are planning a peace gathering in response to the decidedly un-peaceful rhetoric of Troy Mayor Janice Daniels. They are showing us that it is better to answer hate with love than it is to stoop to the haters’ level, retaliating with anger. We thank these young people of Troy for their fine example of responsible, progressive leadership.
While the students of Troy are teaching us all, over 150 teachers gathered at the Michigan SOGI Education Conference: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues in Education at Oakland University in Rochester. They learned about creating safe educational spaces for all students. We applaud the conference organizers and the participants who saw the need for better training on LGBT issues at the middle and high school levels, and then did something about it. This first conference has sparked dialogues and questions, and created solutions and excitement that will benefit all students in their schools. The organizers are already thinking about how to expand this conference for next year.
And finally, two of our local organizations got some of the recognition they deserve. Kick! and the Ruth Ellis Center are both receiving awards and grants to support their inspiring work. We know that running non-profit social service agencies can sometimes be a thankless pursuit, and we want to add our congratulations to the executive directors, Curtis Lipscomb of Kick! and Laura Hughes of REC, for their fine work and dogged determination on behalf of all their agencies.
As we go forward into 2012 there will be many challenges. It is good to know that we have strong new leadership that is willing to take up the reigns of activism and that our organizations are receiving some of the credit they’ve earned. It reminds us that a major court victory like the one upholding Californians equal marriage rights does not happen all at once, but comes at the end of a long arc of energy. We see the start of new arcs of justice in Michigan and look forward to seeing them actualized by the next generation of our leaders and organizations.