I have been following all of the news about the number of elected officials, especially US Senators, who are "coming out" in support of marriage equality. It is clear progress is being made and there is much celebration amongst members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. I also recognize that marriage equality has been an entry point for many allies into the LGBT movement.
If we're going to praise US Senators, Democrats OR Republicans, we must push them on other LGBT equality and broader issues.
Don't get me wrong, I'm gay and want the choice to marry when/if I ever find that someone special. While this is the case, marriage is not enough. Point is--there are other issues that impact our community.
Should we praise Senators for supporting marriage equality if they don't support nondiscrimination laws and legal protections, funding for jobs, education and housing or LGBT inclusive commonsense immigration reform? I think not.
Additionally, where is the change of heart coming from? Is it because polls show some of the highest levels of support for marriage equality? It would be braver if they had come out for marriage before this new research. That's what it means to be a leader, to show support before the story breaks, not after.
I'll take it a step further.
We know that Rob Portman (R-OH), Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) have endorsed marriage equality, respectively. What if they oppose the Employee Non-Discrimination Act like Portman? What if they support the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline like Hagan? What if they voted against the DREAM Act like Kirk?
These are important questions to ponder as our country is becoming increasingly diverse, we are equipped with enhanced tools for community engagement and find ourselves in a unique political time. These factors combined have given us fertile ground for organizing, coalition building and changing business as usual.
We must hold ALL elected officials and ourselves to higher standards of equality. We must break down the silos whether by community, issue or campaign. We must be bold, visionary and steadfast in our commitment to social and economic justice.
So, please, let us celebrate the progress we have made. That is a key part of motivating people to take action and stay involved. My ask is that we do not allow ourselves to settle for anything less than full equality...for everyone.
We all do better, well, when we ALL do better. I believe that.
Gregory Cendana is first openly gay and youngest-ever Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership and Advancement. He also serves on DC Mayor Vincent Gray's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Advisory Committee and the Board of the Youth Pride Alliance.