Monday, May 13, 2013

Marriage Equality and the Myth of Inevitability

Originally published at Opine Season

I loved seeing the photos and reading the tweets this past Thursday when the MN House voted in favor of marriage equality. Lots of people are happy. I’m happy. This is good news, and as of this writing, more good news is likely on the way.

I’m especially happy for all the people I know who don’t just support equality and justice in some abstract sense, but who have worked so tirelessly to help build it—not just around marriage equality, but around a whole host of LGBTQ issues and beyond. Their stories are more inspiring to me than any politician’s or celebrity endorser’s.

It’s vital to remember that this victory is not the product of the “inevitable march of progress,” or some magical progressive domino effect, but of people working together. This is the result of thousands of hours of phone-banking and door-knocking, building organizations and institutions over the past few decades and beyond, writing hundreds of op-eds and press releases, having countless (sometimes difficult) conversations with family, neighbors and Facebook friends, individual acts of courage from members of the LGBTQ community, building community and trust with one another, and old-school, unglamorous, nose-to-the-grindstone organizing.

Yes, there is a large-scale cultural shift taking place. But large-scale cultural shifts don’t just happen. We create them.

How many movements have fallen victim to their own success, dissipating as soon as some symbolic goal was reached, or some vaguely-allied politician got elected? The best time to fight is after a victory. That’s what we’re seeing now, and that’s what I hope we continue to see in the months and years to come.

I don’t want to condescend. We all know that marriage equality isn’t the final goal, that there are many more battles yet to be fought. This is just a note of appreciation and respect for everyone already fighting those battles, and a reminder to myself and to anyone reading this to stay engaged, stay active, and never give up.

Change has never been as simple as electing the right leaders, or just waiting for the younger generation to displace the older one. It’s always been about struggle, about organizing, about people working together to build the world they want.

For anyone looking to get involved, I’d encourage you to check out these organizations: MN United, OutFront MN, the TC Avengers, Shades of Yellow, the Trans Youth Support Network, the MN Activist Project organization database, and the TC Indymedia organization database. There are many more; feel free to comment with others, and stay engaged!

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