In Defense of Equality

Last week was a normally busy for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, they represent a force of more than one million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC’s vision a reality. I get all their updates from and make contributions when I can. I hope you do to.

They have worked tirelessly to make equality in America – truly equal for all. And their victories in trying to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) should be remembered and hailed.  Our country must allow equal access and participation for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation.

There was a terrific interview by NPR of Marine Major Darrel Choat who came out on the radio and all the follow up. Listening to him tell his story was great – but hearing the response from his Marine colleagues told me we have come a long way. He said he heard from people he had not talked to in years and they were proud of him and nonplussed by his announcement. In a true show of impact, or lack thereof, in the repeal of DADT, Choat said, “Several of those Marines reached out to me and said, didn’t know, didn’t care, doesn’t change anything.” Choat has served our country well and his sexual orientation didn’t change his ability to serve or our pride in his service – and from now on it can’t and won’t.

On the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Friday was a turning point. Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida became the first Republican Member of Congress to support the Respect for Marriage Act, a repeal of DOMA.  New York and my home state of Illinois have passed Marriage/Relationship Recognition Laws – next step is NOT to have these laws at all, because everyone if free to marry whoever they like.

These are important milestones. The race is not finished, but we have the wind at our back and are continuing the race.

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