By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR
Being at Creative Change this week put the issue of marriage equality at the forefront of my mind. Our partners at Familia es Familia hosted a session aimed at educating attendees on the Latino community’s attitudes and thoughts on LGBT issues. They’re positive attitudes, to be sure, but when you think about the top three reasons why Latinos support marriage equality and LGBT rights, they’re not so surprising. Respect, family, and opposition to discrimination are at the core of the Latino community’s values, so it makes sense that our community feels this way toward LGBT people. Like the rest of America, Hispanic views on the LGBT community have evolved toward greater and greater acceptance.
During the session, I started to reflect on the evolution of my own views, though it might not be the evolution you’d expect to hear from an out and proud gay man. Mine has been an evolution toward the acceptance of marriage as an institution I want to be a part of. Don’t get the wrong idea—I certainly recognize the marriage equality fight as one that we need to have. But the truth is that I haven’t always looked at marriage as something that suited me.
The reasons why I opposed marriage for myself are pretty juvenile when I think about them, but I can’t deny the fact that I held steadfast to them well into my twenties. They were mostly rooted in a fear of commitment, though I did my best to justify those views as anything but that.
As with so many things in life, however, my beliefs changed when I fell in love. Despite my best efforts, I was swept away during graduate school by a fellow student named Jim. This attractive, funny, and intelligent young man would eventually become my boyfriend and then my domestic partner. And, certainly to the surprise of my mother, father and even myself, I plan to one day make him my husband.
Being with Jim has helped me understand love and the power that marriage holds for those who opt for it. The federal government certainly believes in this power. One only need look at the myriad tax perks and benefits that the government confers on married couples. But not all marriages are recognized by the government. Not all people are given the opportunity to participate in this legal tradition. Not all people are recognized as equal. My relationship with Jim is not valid in the eyes of the federal government.
In a country dedicated to and founded on the principle of equality, any kind of discrimination leveled at a group of people, especially on the scale of marriage inequality, simply cannot stand. It is, without question, in nonaccordance with the ideals that are so eloquently prescribed in the Constitution.
But I have hope that change is coming. We have helped create this change and I don’t see our community giving up this fight anytime soon. In 2012, four states said no to attempts to codify discrimination into their constitutions. NCLR itself came out and stated strongly that we support marriage equality, and President Obama furthered solidified his commitment to the fight in his second inaugural speech. I firmly believe that marriage equality will be a reality. It’s only a matter of time.
But it won’t happen by itself. Achieving equality will continue to take passionate and tireless advocacy. I’m proud to work for an organization that believes in this endeavor. Every day more people and organizations join this fight, but we need even more allies in order to really be effective. So, if you believe in this cause and the overarching quest for social justice, join us and declare your support for marriage equality. We’ll both be better for it when you do.