What no one thought was possible is coming together and moving the whole nation into a new era of respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In one week the president of the United States and the board of directors of the historic NAACP gave their support to equal protection under the law through marriage for same-gender-loving couples.
Conservatives are prone to rattle sheets of aluminum in staged rolls of thunder, accompanied by dire warnings of a coming storm, if marriage becomes a civil institution available to all couples. Well, I have a weather update: The rain is falling! And it is going to give life to the seeds of respect and generosity.
As the head of the Metropolitan Community Churches with congregations in nearly all 50 states of the union, I want to heap praise on the NAACP and all peoples who have struggled for the full rights of citizenship and equality. We celebrate the historic decision of the NAACP to support marriage equality and full protection under the law. We affirm the NAACP's recognition of our racially diverse community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
But this is not a moment to put our feet up in satisfaction. It is the time to put our shoulder to the plow and work together to protect our democracy for everyone. Right now, the legislatures in 30 states have passed laws that require additional photo identification from voters and other restrictive laws that NAACP president Ben Jealous called Jim Crow laws for people of color, elderly people, and people with little money.
Until these laws are declared unconstitutional, long-time voters will be forced to spend money they don't have to secure notarized birth certificates -- which they may not have if they were born at home. Seniors will arrive at the polls and be forced to submit a provisional ballot and then return within a set time with a photo ID. The working poor will be forced to decide if they should buy a photo ID or the next meal for their family.
Just as marriage equality is not just a concern for LGBT people but for all citizens who care about equality before the law, voter rights is not the sole purview of the NAACP. If we care about our democracy, if we care about equal laws and a representative government, we need to join with the NAACP and all organizations that are lifting up this crucial issue.
Voting rights are LGBT rights! Elder rights are LGBT rights! Economic rights are LGBT rights! The words of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. still ring true today: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
The perfect storm of officials and movements coming together to support the American dream of equality is here. Let it rain! Let it rain! Let it rain!
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