Building on their thoughtful June marriage equality supplement, staff at Seattle Gay News asked Pride Foundation Executive Director Kris Hermanns about why marriage matters. In her editorial, Kris writes about the broader context of Washington’s marriage equality campaign. It’s about love, it’s about the freedom to marry, and it’s about helping to create a culture in which our lives are fully recognized.
Guest editorial: Now is the time to make history
by Kris Hermanns – Special to the Seattle Gay News (posted Friday, July, 6 2012 – Volume 40 Issue 27)
Four months from now, Washingtonians will have the chance to stand up for full equality and make history by defending marriage equality at the ballot box in November. It can be a victory that resonates for generations to come and pushes the entire nation over the tipping point toward a culture – and legal reality – in which LGBTQ people are truly equal. We are the state to do it. This is the definition of the future.
We know that our community has concerns that go beyond marriage equality. We see this every day through Pride Foundation’s LGBTQ grants and scholarship programs. Those most vulnerable in our community, especially LGBTQ youth and elders, Transgender people, and those living in rural areas or remote towns, still need access to basic support and services in the areas of employment, education, housing, and health care. We as a community cannot stop until everyone can live freely, safely, and with full dignity and protection.
While our lives should never be put up for a vote, the effort to defend marriage equality is about erasing one injustice facing our LGBTQ community. It is also about helping to create a culture in which our lives are fully recognized. The truth of the matter is that marriage carries a cultural weight and currency that domestic partnerships, civil unions, and the like do not – even if those relationships are just as loving and committed as same-sex marriages. Marriage is a language universally understood, both for its weight and its joy, by our non-LGBTQ friends, family, and neighbors.
Whether an initiative to repeal a marriage law like ours succeeds or fails matters to all of us. When Prop 8 passed in California four years ago, we saw an immediate – I am talking the very next day – increase in harassment and discrimination toward LGBTQ people across the state. Of the many stories shared with me, one friend was vividly harassed on the bus to work for being a ‘dyke’ the morning after Prop 8 passed. Some people took its passage as a license to think of and treat LGBTQ folks as less than human, even in situations having nothing to do with marriage. We saw an increase in LGBTQ youths’ rejection from their families, and their safety and stability in general was left on tenuous ground.