Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
It’s been a year now since the historic marriage decision came down in Massachusetts (Goodridge v Department of Health). On Nov. 18, 2003, the world seemed to stand still for LGBT people and their allies. All of a sudden we could get married. Legally. In the United States.
Of course, it wasn’t all of a sudden and most of us still cannot get legally married in the United States and have it recognized in our home states. Yet despite the limitations and restrictions, there was no doubt that the Goodridge case was nothing short of historic.
Our victory fanned the flames of anti-gay activists who declared, literally, a cultural war on us. On Nov. 2, 2004 we saw the results of their efforts as 11 anti-gay marriage amendments passed nationwide. States like Michigan and Ohio passed amendments so broad and far-reaching they seem to have been written to specifically punish gay and lesbian couples simply for being homosexual. Not only did the authors of these proposals seek to define marriage, they sought to strip gay and lesbian couples of rights they already had and prevent even the most basic of protections like domestic partner benefits. They are mean-spirited and hateful and were sold to the public under the guise of protecting marriage, when it was really gay and lesbian families who needed the protecting.
The pain is still with us, but we recognize that we’ve lost a battle, not the war that the right-wing has declared.
In this issue we talk to David Wilson and Rob Compton, one of the original seven couples who filed the Massachusetts marriage case. The discussion with them was enlightening and helped put our nationwide losses into perspective.
Theirs is a story of courage and conviction. It is also one of patience and strategy. The marriage case in Massachusetts didn’t come out of nowhere. It had been in the making for decades and Massachusetts stands as a shining example of a state where gay and lesbian people are treated fairly and equitably under the law.
There is so much work to do, but we shouldn’t let that deter us. In Massachusetts, David and Rob said, it was the stories about real people and real lives that helped change attitudes about marriage equality. People like you talking to your neighbor, your sister, your best friend, your co-worker about your life and about the protections you lack and how that makes you feel or how that has impacted you.
It is surprising how many people don’t know that people can be fired in Michigan for their sexual orientation. This is legal. Your boss can say, “You’re gay so you’re fired,” and you don’t have a legal leg to stand on. It is a source of anxiety and fear for many LGBT people in Michigan who are afraid to come out at work – or at all – for fear of losing their jobs.
Many people who consider themselves allies of the community still don’t know this. It is your job to tell them.
Every story, every life is another tile in the mosaic that will eventually grow larger than the fear-inspired hate and the homophobia our opponents thrive on. But we must build it one voice at a time. It was how they were successful in Massachusetts and it will ultimately be how we are successful in Michigan.