Inevitable Equality, With All Of Your Help



By Emily Dievendorf
Originally printed 6/5/2014 (Issue 2223 - Between The Lines News)

This is PRIDE. Have you checked the score lately? We are winning hearts and minds. Winning the argument. People are coming to know us and stand with us. We are working on several fronts at the same time. We're teaching and changing the landscape. Michigan has now seen over 300 couples tie the knot and we are experiencing real movement on winning marriage equality for the long term. The Governor is asking legislative leadership to put amending our state civil rights act to include protections for the LGBT community on the legislative agenda before the end of the year. We have debuted a statewide public education campaign, Michigan for Marriage, to tell our stories of why marriage equality matters. This is a great time to breathe, for ten seconds only.

Tag back in, because I've noticed something. Beaming grins that are full of hope and awe and relief report that equality is...INEVITABLE. First, feel that joy and know that it is rightfully ours to own. Second, throw up the Red Flag.

Remember, in these moments of assumed inevitability, the great weight of our choices, the intrinsic value of every moment, and the damage that comes with stagnation. When we interpret that sense of inevitability as a ticket to ride we become dangerous because in LGBT social justice the battle we are fighting to win isn't to gain something shiny and new to compliment a whole. We are fighting for our lives. We are working every day to fill a void that unfilled is harm perpetuated, a wound enflamed and casualties multiplied.

In ancient Greece there was a soldier and student of Socrates named Xenophon. A huge army was pursuing Xenophon and in a strategic decision he chose to march his own army to spot where they would be backed up to a cliff. His soldiers questioned this choice but Xenophon assured them that the approaching army would know them to be formidable because they now had no choice but to fight to the death. The LGBT communities don't have to look far to find our cliffs, our reasons to pour heart and energy into winning equality and fairness in our state, because our cliffs are our lives as is. Our cliffs are continuing to be denied the ability to give loving homes to the thousands of kids in Michigan's foster care system, getting fired for who we love or for just expressing our gender in a way our employer doesn't like, getting harassed or assaulted or murdered because of our sexual orientation or gender identity, getting bullied in school because of who we are, or getting treated like a criminal because of our HIV status.

There is an African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Michigan's LGBT movement has figured out that we cannot wait to address discrimination in bolder ways than ever before. Beyond that sense of urgency the movement is also doing something else that is rarely seen by the public and is hardly ever recognized - it is learning to come together as a coordinated, cohesive organism for change that is empowered by complimentary parts. This regrouping has made our movement a machine that is healing itself.

Many of you had the privilege of attending the weddings that happened on Saturday, March 22. Make no mistake, it was no accident and there was no one person behind it. For that one day of beauty and love to happen we needed the DeBoer-Rowse family and their legal team, Equality Michigan, Affirmations, Inclusive Justice, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion, Michigan UU Social Justice Network, National ACLU, GLAD, Freedom to Marry, four county clerks and many others. Those engaged in making March 22 happen had no other option, because not finding a way for fairness and love if and when a window opened up for Michigan couples was the unfathomable drop to the rocks that wasn't even a choice.

Author E.M. Forster once wrote, "There's never any knowing - how am I to put it? - which of our actions, which of our idlenesses won't have things hanging on it forever."

The part that may be missing is you. Equality is inevitable only if you accept inevitable as eventual and when stopping harm to our families is the end goal "eventually" is not an option. We have no choice but to fight for our lives, to join the effort, and to take the LGBT communities both far and fast together.

This week, join Equality Michigan, with Pride, in celebrating the immense progress we are making together. By next June let's have given the movement a hundred reasons to be even Prouder. Welcome to Motor City Pride 2014!

Emily Dievendorf is Executive Director of Equality Michigan. She can be reached at emily@equalitymi.org
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