As we await what we all hope will be an amazing Supreme Court decision for marriage equality, I have been struck by much of the dialogue regarding the success of the marriage equality movement. Specifically, I often hear that the forward motion of marriage equality has been compelled largely by the passage of time and the impact of younger, more “open-minded” voters. We need to be very cautious about embracing this school of thought because it essentially disregards the decades of hard work that set the stage we are now standing on.
To suggest that the upcoming success is solely, or even mostly, the result of the passage of time negates the long history of families, individuals and organizations working steadfastly for LGBT civil rights.
For decades, activists fought hard to secure basic LGBT rights and recognition, including domestic partnership registries and domestic partnership health insurance. There were lawsuits, legislative efforts and countless press conferences and demonstrations before progress was made. Even after the 9/11 tragedy, there was an enormous struggle to include surviving LGBT partners in the compensation fund.
As these victories were won and as elected officials voted to recognize LGBT families for the first time - a remarkable thing happened - the sun continued to rise and set.
We expanded the definition of family and only good things happened. This was a huge development for so many elected officials and so many Americans.
As we stand on the precipice of a massive victory we need to remind ourselves that change of this type does not happens by accident or simply by the passage of time. Rather, change of this type is deliberate and the result of hard selfless work by so many individuals - some still with us and many dearly departed.
Thank you to all who have sacrificed to bring us this day.
Chelsea resident Christine Quinn is the former speaker of the New York City Council and a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.