By Ruben Gonzales, Deputy Vice President, Resource Development, NCLR
Four years ago, while an electrified Chicago crowd chanted “Yes, we can!” during President Obama’s acceptance speech, many in the LGBT community still had their eyes glued to their televisions awaiting entirely different results. And as those results flooded in, it became all too clear that Republicans weren’t the only ones who had suffered a devastating blow that night—Proposition 8 passed in California, barring same-sex couples from the constitutional right to marry.
Four years later, the story has changed drastically. Instead of disappointment and shock, the LGBT community and their allies across the U.S. were greeted to the incredible news that marriage equality won at the ballot for the first time ever in three states—Maine, Maryland, and Washington—and that voters in Minnesota also voted down a constitutional ban on gay marriage. As proud allies of the LGBT community, NCLR wholeheartedly supports and celebrates the historic decisions made by the residents of these great states to stand behind equality, respect, and dignity for all Americans.
The 2012 election will unquestionably be remembered as a defining moment and a major turning point in the fight for marriage equality. Looking back to 2008, many fingers were pointed at communities of color for the passage of Proposition 8, and it would be flat-out untrue to say we did not deserve some part of the blame. However, if the last four years has taught us anything, it’s that when the momentum for positive change begins to build, the barriers to understanding and equality simply will not stand.
Opponents of marriage equality push the idea that it’s acceptable to put the civil rights of other human beings up to a popular vote. And, up until Election Day, that strategy had worked in opponents’ favor. This time, however, Americans throughout the country said that enough is enough. They said that when you give us the choice, we are going to do what is right.
And Latinos stood beside the LGBT community this Election Day, rebutting common misconceptions about our attitudes toward LGBT rights and proving what NCLR already knows—Latinos stand for equality. Pride is a term that has become indelibly linked to the LGBT community. Appropriately, we at NCLR feel such tremendous pride to see so many Hispanic Americans voicing their support for marriage equality.
The fight for same-sex marriage is far from over. There are still many hearts and minds that need to be changed and plenty more legislative battles that have yet to be waged. Ultimately, we hope that other states build on this momentum and continue to recognize same-sex marriage and the profound effect it will have on strengthening families all across the U.S.. We will also closely watch our federal courts, which have historically ushered in some of the biggest social changes the country has ever seen.
The 2012 election is a new chapter for marriage equality. It’s time to see this story through to a happy ending.