We are a Unique Expression of the True Potential of the American Dream

Remarks at Boulder County’s First Civil Unions Celebration by Aicila Lewis

April 30, 2013

Yesterday Jason Collins became the first NBA player to come out as gay. Virgin Galactic, a commercial spaceship, fired up its rocket engine in flight for the first time, breaking the sound barrier and taking us one step closer to recreational space flights. And tonight, we will see the first Civil Unions performed in Boulder County Colorado.

When I first came out, I told my then girlfriend I would never, no matter what, be an activist. But I couldn’t keep to that rash assertion. As a bisexual woman, I experience personally the extreme difference with which we treat gay and straight partnerships. And while my love for women is no less profound or important to me, those relationships have been devalued and ignored. By my government. By my community. By my family.

Just 7 years ago Referendum I, an initiative for domestic partnerships in Colorado, was defeated with only 43% of voters supporting it. 2 years ago, a Civil Unions bill with strong religious exemptions was introduced into the legislative process and defeated through filibuster. This year Colorado passed a much stronger Civil Unions bill with polls showing that over 70% of Coloradans now support Civil Unions. We have come from 43% to 70% support in just under 7 years.

This happened because of the dedication and hard work of hundreds of people over decades. People like Clela Rorex, Penfield Tate, Jean Dubofsky, Glenda Russell, Brad Clark, Larry Hoyt, David Ensign, Jared Polis, Jean Hodges, and Sandy Zigler. People like our allies who reached out to join us in the struggle, despite the very real stigma they can face when they make our cause their own. People like you– simply and quietly living your lives. People like you, the couples here tonight who have been together, some over 20, some over 30 years. You claimed your right to love and partner as is true for you despite the obstacles. Your commitment and bravery is really how this work happens. And I thank you for it.

As LGBT people we know the suffering and inspiration of all walks of life because we come from every type of family and every community. We are rich and poor, people of faith, people of color, citizens and immigrants, veterans, able bodied and disabled, senators and congressman, homeless, retired, students, artists, corporate executives, NBA players, celebrities, soccer moms. We are a unique expression of the true potential of the American dream.

This uniqueness requires that we fight not just for LGBT rights but for human rights. Immigration reform. Gender equity. Economic justice. We cannot, and will not, stop with marriage. Have no doubt- this is only the most recent step on the road to equality. We will have full marriage and we will end the social stigma we have faced because we are the irresistible force.

Our cause is just. Our allies are relentlessly dedicated. And, someday, like Virgin Galactic, we will soar into a future we once saw as only fictional and experience the great things we can accomplish in a fully just society.