Thursday, October 22, 2009

A long time coming

Today I received news that the Matthew Shepard Act has passed the Senate and will be heading to President Obama's desk for signature. So many of us have watched and waited for 11 years. We have written letters, called our representatives, spoken to our neighbors and relatives, and believed that one day we would prevail. We certainly didn't expect it to take this long, nor did anyone envision that it would be connected to a DOD spending bill. Truthfully, none of that matters to me today - only that we did it.

I've sent the message to the Spectrum lists, texted some of my friends, and shared the links on Facebook. A couple of friends have asked me how I'm doing; it's probably because I mentioned I couldn't stop crying. I'm pretty sure they're tears of joy, though. To be honest, I'm a bit overwhelmed. After 11 years, it doesn't quite feel real. So many times we've come close to getting it passed, only to be turned away at the 11th hour. The last year hasn't been all success, either. After Prop 8 passed in California, I was left feeling somewhat discouraged. After all our hard work, after opening our lives and hearts to strangers so that they might understand, how could they still not get it?

Today's vote signals to me that we really are making progress. It gives me a renewed belief that we will see equality in my day. That soon my marriage will mean something everywhere. That we will ensure ALL students feel safe and welcome in school. That we will all be respected and treated like human beings. The way Matt would have done it. It tells me that we will repeal the discriminatory laws, and enact protections. And that our hard work is not in vain.

Most of all, I'm thinking about Matt. I know that he's smiling today, but also egging us on to do more. Don't stop here, because there's still so much that has to happen. We can't rest yet, but today at least, we can take comfort in our success. Matt, I renew my promise to you: I won't stop until everyone is safe.

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