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Thursday, April 30, 2009


The long and winding road

There's an article in the latest issue of Liberation newspaper (actually not yet online as I wrote this) with the headline "Same-sex marriage victories in Iowa and Vermont!", but it was the subhead that really caught my eye and had an impact on me: "Rulings are products of decades of struggle." Because that's a lesson activists in any cause must never forget.

I've written about this before, but let me summarize. In 1974 I personally testified in a Massachusetts State House of Representatives hearing, on behalf of the National Organization for [note: "for"] Women, of which I was an active member, for a bill which would have banned discrimination (e.g., in housing, employment) based on sexual orientation. The bill didn't pass.

That was 35 years ago. Now I can't claim to have been continually active on behalf of LGBT rights for that 35 years. I've been active on that, and other issues - the ERA (remember that?), abortion rights, nuclear power, war (too numerous to list), Cuba and the Cuban Five, Palestinian rights, and others, and I've gone through periods of relative political inactivity as well. But someone, and actually many ones, have been struggling for LGBT rights for those entire 35 years. The payoff has come in fits and starts, and the struggle is far from finished, but the lesson remains. As steep and high as is the mountain before us on any particular issue, be it stopping a war, or single-payer health care, or ending a decades-long occupation, we must never think we're "doing something wrong" just because it's been a year or two, or even a decade or two, and we haven't achieved our objective yet. Sometimes, the only answer is we just have to keep on struggling.

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