This past weekend, for example, was the first time I have ever participated actively in a social cause, and I could not be more excited about it. Joe Saunders, one of the coolest person I've met this year, asked me to help recruit and organize volunteers to table for Equality Florida and the Fairness for All Families campaign at Orlando's Come Out With Pride 2007 Event! I was fortunate enough to recruit some AMAZING volunteers who stayed at the event the whole day to help spread the word about Florida's so-called "Marriage Protection Act." If this act was passed as an amendment into Florida's constitution, not only would there be a ban placed on same-sex marriage, but same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships as well. Therefore, we were at Pride to reach out to the community and encourage them to pledge to vote NO! to placing discrimination in our constitution.
I think that in the debate over gay marriage, there is one main issue that is often ignored - that every single person living in this state, in this country, is a HUMAN BEING who deserves the same equal rights. How can we, as a country, even suggest denying basic rights to citizens based on who they love? Once two people in this country are married, they are granted over 1,000 rights. These rights include everything from tax breaks to visitation rights in the hospital. Can you imagine that scenario? Your partner, whom you have been with for 20+ years, is suffering from a life-threatening car crash, or a serious disease, and because you are not "married" or "family," as defined by law, you are not granted visitations rights to visit them in their last few hours. Or, imagine you have been with your partner in a committed relationship, and yet your place of work denies you domestic partnership benefits for health or life insurance.
I cannot imagine how anyone can honestly look at themselves and say that an entire group of people, based solely on their sexual attractions, or personal definitions of love and gender and self-identity, should not receive the same basic human rights of those who prescribe to the heterosexual norm.
My Women's Studies professor offered some inspiring advice in my last class however -- according to her, in recent polls, the gay rights movement is considered by many to be THE movement for this generation. It is an issue we feel passionately and deeply about, and it is one that we can ultimately achieve!
The feeling of being involved in something so political and so relevant was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, and I hope that everyone will experience that feeling in their lifetime. For the first time, I felt the power that people can create while coming together to fight social oppression, and it was completely exhilarating. Hearing people thank us for working towards justice and equality was so humbling, and that day, connections were made that won't be forgotten. I truly believe that in any scenario where people have come together to work for a world of equality, harmony, and peace, there is a great life force present, and the possibility for change is endless.
Pride was a day of hope, love, and community, and I would encourage you all to attend one wherever you live, as a member of the GLBT community, or as a straight ally.
On a closing note, I'd like to leave you with this quote from the Pride parade:
"We are not asking for special rights - just human rights."