To say that the past few weeks have seen fast progress for LGBT equality would be a gross understatement. Just a few short years ago, it seemed an endless fight. But today, even without full federal protections in place, some states are working hard to change things. Marriage equality has moved with lightning speed over the pass few weeks, being approved in Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota. They’ve joined other states that are paving the way to a better, safer and stronger future for all of their residents.
Unfortunately though in Texas, our LGBT communities continue to struggle beneath a firewall of state laws prohibiting progress. And until there are significant changes in state government, that reality would seem to persist in the forseeable future. In fact, with today’s news of a Collin County judge saying a lesbian couple can no longer live together, some would argue that we’re moving as fast as possible in the opposite direction. The efforts in Texas to stem the tide of change are just as extraordinary as the historic changes have been.
It is through this lense of intolrance that Texans have to fight the battle for equality, and in this state, it is every bit a battle. But beyond working to change the law, one of the most important aspects of this fight is setting good examples in our community, and shattering the lies that drive Anti-LGBT sentiment. The more Texans that live out in the open as LGBT, behave as good neighbors, and do all the things that we already do, the better prepared we will be for that moment when our laws can change. I wrote a few weeks back about some frustration within Houston’s LGBT community. Three years after the historic election of Mayor Annise Parker, many laws regarding LGBT equality have not changed. It’s a valid point, and an important opinion to share on behalf of many in the community.
But what was missed in that article is the profound impact that Mayor Parker’s leadership has had within Houston, and beyond. She forged a path to show Houston that an LGBT person is capable of being mayor of a major city. She has continued to prove that Houston is a city that can get major things done to improve the quality of life for everyone. And as I have learned since writing the last post, she has inspired many other LGBT persons in Conservative states looking to be pioneers in their own communities.
Perhaps most importantly though, the Mayor seems committed to making progress, even when the picture for equality isn’t always ideal. In a touching Huffington Post Op-ed for Mother’s Day, Parker shared the following…
People who know gay couples know that we are just as committed to each other as our straight counterparts. And people who know gay parents know we are just as dedicated to raising our children with love and protecting them from harm. We will keep pushing for the government to treat us equally — in marriage and adoption and beyond — and in the meantime, we’ll keep being who we are, openly and honestly, and showing just how alike we all are in the ways that really matter.
This post is not a retraction of the former post, or an endorsement. I still hope that the Mayor will work to pass equal rights into Houston’s laws. But it is a recognition that even if she hasn’t done that, the examples she and other LGBT leaders set are critical in the fight for full equality. And as long as our leaders do that, they create a pathway to the protections we seek.