Two weeks ago I was walking down Fifth Avenue with Cathy, Sheila, Michael and Robert, four great people who make two great couples. I've been a part of the New York City Pride Parade in one way or another every year for the last 30 years, but this was not just another Pride march; it was a victory march! I felt privileged to walk with these warriors who have fought for marriage equality from the start to the now-nearing end!
There is no question that this war is won! It will be completed soon, but it's not over yet.
I met Cathy and Sheila and Michael and Robert eight years ago, when I launched my Love and Pride website at St. Bartholomew's Church in Midtown Manhattan. We began our involvement in the fight for marriage equality in a beautiful ceremony of exchanging vows and rings. In front of a full church of 500 people, both couples exchanged rings (that I designed) and vows, and that was the birth of our line, Love and Pride. It was one of the most beautiful nights of my life and the beginning of a great journey: meeting great people from a plethora of amazing organizations and taking part in what I strongly believe is our generation's primary fight for civil and human rights.
Since that night in the church, I've witnessed a lot of victories and as many setbacks. Since then we've never stopped finding different ways to help the fight, be it by raising money or by raising awareness.
One of my proudest moments was when, in 2007, we stood with our friends from Lambda Legal in Union Square and launched our 1138 collection, giving to random people on the street 1,138 roses, each with a different federal right attached to the rose. We're revisiting that statement in our current campaign, which I'll come back to.
As I walked down Fifth Avenue on a sunny day, with thousands of people on the sidelines, cheering and celebrating LGBT pride, and witnessed my friends' emotions and excitement as tears rolled down their faces as they marched in celebration of the basic idea that love will always win out over hate, and as I was learning from Cathy that she had been the head of Marriage Equality New York since her first march in 2006, with just four people and six signs), I was thinking to myself, "Every gay man or woman everywhere in the U.S. and the world deserves this, and we must continue the fight." It's not over. I believe in the basic Lincolnian idea that none of us is free until we are all free.
So what next?
It is clear that it's not only the wind of justice that is at our back but, very importantly, public opinion, organization, and money.
Things have changed and continue to change. I believe that if we all continue the fight and don't stop but increase the pressure even more, we will leave our mark on history, and my children's generation will live in a much better world than the one I grew up in.
In my view, there are two ways that we can win this battle sooner rather than later:
We must vote in all elections! In this fight, midterm elections are as important as presidential elections, and governors are as important as presidents. Let's not forget the 2010 midterm elections and what a different result we got in 2012 when we showed up and voted -- and woke up to see that America had taken a turn to the left in many ways, including on gay marriage!
With this weapon we can really make a difference, and quickly! It's what I call "no honey, no money." We need to fight with our wallets by letting the public in major states and cities that still discriminate against LGBT persons (hello, Miami) know how much money is in the marriage equality business. We should make them aware of the revenue and prosperity that these events bring to cities and communities that embrace this basic right. (New York is estimated to have enjoyed $275 million in revenue directly from "gay" weddings in the first year!) We also need to rethink where we want to live as people, and where we want to spend our money. Should I go for vacation in a state that treats all people equally, or should I go to a state that discriminates? Do I want to spend my time there? Do I want to buy a winter house there? Do I want to send my kids to school there? Do I want to live and work there? Today -- after DOMA -- we have a choice and the power, and we must use it.
Let's find a positive way of explaining to the voters and residents of states that do not support equality that it will be costly. They are going to lose hearts, minds, people and, ultimately, profits. The last thing we want to do is hurt businesses that are run and operated by LGBT people or our allies and family, wherever they are, but today we have the means to research and find out if a business or local government is LGBT-friendly or not. (Goodbye, Trump; hello, W!)
After June 2013's historic Supreme Court rulings, I feel strongly that we are moving the gay revolution toward its last chapter, but we need to push strong and hard through until we reach the finish line.
In celebration of this great victory, and in recognition of how far we still have to go, we will be delivering 1,138 roses to the Supreme Court steps to show our support for equality and to remind the country that this fight is far from over. You can also say "thank you" by "joining" our event virtually on our Facebook page, which will ensure that your name is written on one of our giant "thank you" cards, or by standing proudly with us on July 24 at 11:38 a.m. on the steps of the Supreme Court.
It's close, and by clicking and purchasing and voting, it's in the power of all good and decent people, straight or gay!