|Geoffrey Kors at the California capitol, where Equality California lobbies for gay rights in the state.
Pride for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is sort of like our own special New Yearâ€™s Eve.Â It is a time not just to celebrate, but also a time to take stock of our lives and to make resolutions for the future.Â
As we celebrate Pride 2006, we have many past accomplishments of which to be proud.Â Over the past seven years, more than a dozen Equality California (EQCA) sponsored bills that advance the cause of LGBT rights here in California have become law; that is more pro-active LGBT rights legislation than has been passed by the other 49 states combined.Â Last year alone we become the first state to pass a marriage equality bill through the legislature and the first state to end discrimination in health care for transgender individuals.Â These bills are on top of groundbreaking domestic partner legislation, the first equal insurance bill enacted in the nation, a landmark bill allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the California State Militia, and legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.
This June, every incumbent who voted for the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno and sponsored by EQCA won their primary.Â And in the two races where candidates who voted for the bill ran head-to-head against candidates who did not, the candidate who stood for the value of equality won.Â This should, once and for all, end the spurious claim that supporting marriage equality will somehow harm elected officialsâ€™ prospects for re-election or higher office.
This year, we are poised to add significant victories to our past successes.Â The California Legislature made history just in time for Pride, by passing a record nine EQCA sponsored LGBT bills through the legislative chamber in which they were introduced.Â These bills, ranging from student safety and bias-free curriculum to nondiscrimination in housing to domestic violence prevention to state income tax equity, will provide critical protections to LGBT youth and bring our entire community closer to our goal of true equality.
These bills, and our rights, however will not happen without each of us doing our part.Â To achieve these goals, we will need to take action.Â The far-right conservative groups are putting everything theyâ€™ve got into stopping these bills, especially the two bills protecting LGBT youth.Â And the governor appears to be caving in to pressure from the right wing and is threatening to veto our youth in his effort to get re-elected.Â
As someone who grew up in a world where there were no public LGBT role models, where gay-straight alliances in schools did not exist and where LGBT youth thought they were alone in the world, I can think of nothing more important than doing something to make the world better for the LGBT youth of today and of tomorrow.Â
Now is the time for each member of the LGBT community to make a resolution to take action in the months and years ahead.Â There is so much that each of us can do.Â Whether it is taking action by contacting the governor and your legislative representatives, volunteering for a phone bank, going door-to-door to identify marriage equality voters, or donating to an LGBT rights organization, please pledge to do something.Â
You can get involved with EQCA, become an advocacy member and learn how to contact elected officials while becoming informed about critical issues.Â You can also sign up to become involved at our San Francisco Pride booth or at eqca.org, or you can join one of the many local LGBT political clubs or get involved with our vibrant San Francisco LGBT Center.Â With the November election just four months away, we have much work to do.
Look around at Pride this week and rejoice in the diversity and activism that make up our community.Â Â Celebrate our achievements, take action to advance the cause of social justice and stand together in the fight for equality.Â Do it for yourself, do it for the people you love and do it for those who will follow.
Geoffrey Kors is the Executive Director of EqualityÂ California at eqca.org