The world I live in now is not the same one I was born into. That is the only way I can describe it.
Earlier this week, when Gov. Gregoire signed this state’s marriage equality bill into law, it started to become clear to me just how much the world has changed. Attending the Marriage Equality Study and Celebration at TDHS a few days later really brought it home.
It’s not just my fight anymore. There are a lot of you out there who have my back, who have been working hard and will be working even harder between now and November, to make sure that gay men and lesbians in this state can marry the person we choose, the person we love. I cannot thank you all enough.
If Referendum 74 passes, if this legislation takes effect, what will change? Nothing – and everything. Washington law already grants domestic partners all the (state-level) rights and privileges of marriage. And yet that one word “marriage” conveys an intangible quality that says my relationship is on a par with yours. That has been just out of reach. Until now.
Twenty-some years ago I helped draft the City of Seattle’s first domestic partner ordinance. It gave a handful of benefits to a handful of city employees, and yet we thought we had accomplished the most historic thing we’d see in our lifetimes. Marriage? Surely we’d have to wander in the wilderness for another couple of generations before that happened.
And now? Now I hear clergy describing this as the defining civil rights struggle of our era. You – our straight allies – are taking up the banner and marching side by side with us, as Heschel marched with King, affirming our rights, our equality, our humanity. I cannot thank you enough.
My grandparents were born in a shtetl in Eastern Europe. They lived to see a man walk on the moon. I always wondered how that must have felt. Now I know.
I cannot thank you enough.