The steps of the Supreme Court were alive with celebration of equality and love. All around me were hugs and kisses, tears and fist-bumps, energy, enthusiasm -- some disbelief -- and relief, respect and remembrance for those who paved the way to the historic decision to end states' bans on marriage equality.
I'm a gay Latino from a family of labor activists in the heart of Texas. And as I joyfully took it all in, my pocket suddenly buzzed. It was a call from an unlisted number. I answered. It was Vice President Joe Biden.
"Henry," he said, and I could feel the warmth of his world-renowned smile in his tone, "We did it."
The Vice President and I spoke at length about how our respective fathers had informed our own worldview. Though we grew up a world away and in different regions and cultures, both of our dads made sure the values of openness, respect and tolerance were instilled -- no ifs, ands or buts -- in their sons starting when we were young children. It's well known to every American that few derive as much joy from family as Joe Biden, and millions have delighted in sharing decades of stories. But yesterday, he told me one I hadn't heard. When the Vice President was a boy he once saw two men kiss before parting ways to work. "It's just love, son," his father told him. "They love each other." It was as simple as that.
My father, who organized Mexican immigrants into voting blocs and into citizens that demanded equal pay in South Texas in the 1950s and 60s, taught me that all movements begin when someone takes a single step towards justice. Under President Obama's and Vice President Biden's leadership, our steps became louder. They became a march and our march has become a movement for change. What started as a trickle in Massachusetts became a call to action in New York that became a roar heard across all fifty states. Yesterday, the court it struck down same-sex marriage bans. The day before, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare and affirmed that quality, affordable health care is a right. Not privilege. While our country remains far from perfect, through Democrats, the American people are winning.
The Democratic Party is the party of inclusion and empowerment. We fight so that all Americans have a chance to get ahead. In particular we have seen Latinos in our country thrive under President Obama. After inheriting the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression, Latino unemployment has been halved.
More than 16 million uninsured Americans -- including 4.2 million Latinos -- now have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. After Republicans in the House held up any hope of passing the comprehensive bipartisan solution, President Obama took action relieving millions of those in this county from the constant threat of deportation. We will continue to fight for a comprehensive solution that offers a pathway to citizenship and a secure border.
On Thursday, the future of our health insurance system was protected by the Supreme Court. On Friday, the future of love and marriage in America was protected by the same. Only in partnership with Democratic leadership will we, as a nation, together, draw strength through diversity, and continue this forward march.