It's Time to Carry the Water - Op-Ed
I suggest we need something big to shake us, to bring us together: I suggest we need a revival. We need a good old-fashioned awakening of our soul as a community - as a global community - that is concerned about the bigger picture of inequality. A revival is a moment to be inspired. As a child growing up in the south, I remember watching the meeting and socializing - and praying - when families would come together to find inspiration to work on behalf of their faith. There’s something to be learned from that fire in the belly moment. People are looking for a leader - a message - but are we prepared to look at how far we must go to attain equality?
Large equality organizations are gifted at throwing enormous events to keep the conversation of our inequality in the spotlight. As a community, we soak it all up. We secure the most beautifully glamorous actors and celebrities and show the world our solidarity - our movement for equality. We express that we are just like everyone else and deserve to be treated with dignity. Thousands and thousands of dollars are spent to facilitate these lavish events as we put on our tuxedos and watch the stars walk the red carpet. We write our checks…never really quite understanding where or how that money is being spent to secure civil rights for our community.
Currently there are a handful of states that recognize marriage for same-sex couples. At last count, 30 states slammed the door on same-sex marriage and the march is on to take the few states that have marriage and reverse those decisions. It is 2012 and, as a nation, we are moving at a glacial speed toward reversing the discriminatory effect of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I will not ever believe that securing marriage equality state by state should be our focus. If the Federal Government made the specific step to enact DOMA, then why are we left to state by state decisions and the bigger issues that continue - such as HIV/AIDS, workplace discrimination and bulling - get less attention? It is a national distraction with dire civil rights consequences.
This is the moment for a revival. This is our time in history to stand together as a community and as a nation to speak out for those who don't have the resources and have nowhere to turn. The lessons that can be learned working together as a community are great. The momentum of our civil rights movement rests on the passion of its people. We are those people - the ones whose time has come.
The time is now. It’s time we all start carrying the water.
Charlene Strong is a nationally respected advocate for civil rights and marriage equality. She is a prolific writer and speaker, and the subject of the award-winning film “for my wife...” She is an appointed Washington State Human Rights Commissioner and the co-founder of LFB Advocacy Group, a strategic consultancy focusing on civil rights and social justice.