When to cry over spilt Milk: Thoughts on Harvey Milk Day
We Virginians celebrated the arrival of marriage equality throughout the Old Dominion, crying out of happiness that we can now legally stand by our loved ones. We must also shed a tear for those who fought to deliver our rights but didn’t live to see this day. Over this thunderous victory we still hear the tinny of detractors fighting against us and equality. We must continue to defend the belief that our rights we are granted are inalienable, echoing Harvey Milk’s words, “All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try they cannot erase those words. That is what America is about.”
While this rings true in our hearts and minds, we are still faced with the insult of discrimination on the basis of our sexual orientation and gender identity. Should we be satisfied with what we’ve gotten so far and sit silently as we are subjected to the fear of losing our jobs or housing? No. Shake off the mindset of being thankful when it comes to human rights and cry out for them. Seventy five percent of Virginians favor a state law that would protect LGBT people from employment discrimination, so it’s up to our community and allies to nurture it into reality. Thirty one percent of same-sex couples looking for rental housing online in the Richmond area face differential treatment. If you face discrimination in a part of life as essential as finding a home, you deserve better.
Today, there are school age children in Virginia and nationwide identifying their gender fluidity and sexual orientation with a firm and unyielding presence of mind. This is a step forward for society and, as a result, bathrooms, locker rooms and other school related facilities have come under scrutiny for their use by these students. Fortunately some of our communities, such as Fairfax County, recognize and validate the students’ needs, fulfilling Milk’s vision for our youth that, “All young people regardless of sexual orientation or identity deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”
For those who haven’t received the support of their school or supposed protectors, cry for them. Cry out for them. Fight for them. Use your shared experiences as a community to empathize and endure, be your own best advocate. If Harvey Milk could stand alone and facilitate progress in equality, imagine what we can accomplish together.
Equality Virginia is the leading statewide, non-partisan advocacy, outreach and education organization seeking equality for LGBT Virginians. EV believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally welcomed and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The combination of deliberately dangerous words and poorly informed people can destroy our democracy.November 14, 2016
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