August 3, 2015
Changing of the Times – June 26th
I cried for my co-workers’ children, who are growing up with this as their normal. And for all the things those young people will want to fight for and how much momentum we have by which to make those fights happen.
On vacation at the beginning of the month, I got to see my family – something I get to do twice a year for a few days – the first thing my father asked me about was the Supreme Court decision. He said, “You know, you’re kind of like Forrest Gump – things just seem to happen around you.” While I haven’t gotten a scholarship to play ping-pong just yet, or saved anybody from a war, I have experienced more than I ever could’ve expected when I signed on to work at GLAD.
Two weeks after I began my internship in public education a little under a year ago, Mary Bonauto was awarded a McArthur Genius Grant. I knew GLAD before I started, but I did not know Mary. I knew the brand of GLAD’s work across the spectrum of LGBT liberty, but I did not know the reach. I did not know Ben Klein and Bragdon v. Abbott, I did not know Jennifer Levi and Rosa v. Park West Bank, and I did not know Goodridge (I was 11 when this happened – and probably biking to my friend Andy’s house). I knew of GLAD, but I did not know the history of its work stretched back to the very beginning.
In short, I knew that interning and eventually taking a position at GLAD was going to be an incredible experience. I did not know it would make me such a close witness to history.
On the morning of the 26th, I was tasked with pressing send on our Facebook post if the Obergefell decision was in our favor. And then it was. From my desk I heard the conference room full of GLAD Staff first gasp, then cheer, and then there was silence. I found out later that this silence was home to tears large and small from staffers of all ages. A few minutes later, we were back to work. Taking press calls from all over the country, listening to Mary’s remarks outside the court, hosting a conference call to help people understand what the decision said and what it means going forward, and so many other things that were propelled by that decision at 10am on a Friday.
The energy and the volume of work that day very much spoke to our movement going forward. We got one huge decision, and now we continue the fight for many more.
I did not cry that morning. If I am being honest, it didn’t feel like my victory to cry for. My tears came at the rally later that evening, when GLAD’s Legal Director Gary Buseck got up to speak and instead just shouted “We won!” – that felt like us, the shoulder-to-shoulder bodies of LGBTQ+ people all yelling back at him. And Gary, who is in all of GLAD’s throwback Thursday photos, because he has really been there since the beginning. I cried thinking about what he must have seen, and that he was there on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to tell about it. And I cried for my co-workers’ children, who are growing up with this as their normal. And for all the things those young people will want to fight for and how much momentum we have by which to make those fights happen. It really changes everything. GLAD really did change everything. We made history, together.
So maybe it isn’t me that’s bound for shrimpin’-boat fame, maybe it’s this place. Maybe GLAD is a box of justice-chocolates knocking out one flavor at a time. As LGBTQ people in this world, we never know in what way we may be discriminated against next, but GLAD is working hard to ensure that when we do experience this discrimination, we have somewhere to go to get the justice we deserve. One thing is for sure, changes are happening. June 26th was a big one – now let’s see what we can change, together, next.