Why Marriage Equality?

The Latino Equality Alliance explains why the fight for Marriage Equality must continue.

It is no secret that ADELANTE is a socially progressive web and print news source. The ubiquity of gorgeous Latino men inundating our pagestestifies to our proud Gay identity. Nuestra voz, both in English and español, is shaped by our rich cultural experiences and the unique sabor that our readers enjoy. While Latino culture’s taste buds differ from those of mainstream America, our access to rights and legal protection should not.

amaro3In keeping up with what’s savoring, I occasionally tease out conversations from chicos y chicas at establishments that carry ADELANTE. Last month, while at a night club in Fresno, I was surprised to learn that not all Gay Latinos share our vision of Marriage Equality. “Why should I care? I don’t want to get married,” said a tall bronze hombre. While he took a sip of his beer, I though to myself, “I know he is not inebriated but why is he speaking nonsense?” Disappointed and in attempt to make better sense of the handsome Frenso hombre’s convictions, I asked the Latino Equality Alliance the same questions the fine gentleman posed.

I spoke with Ari Gutierrez and Eddie Martinez, Co-Chairs of the Latino Equality Alliance, along with Roland Palencia, Co-Founder of Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos (GLLU) in the early 80’s and Advisory Board Member of HONOR PAC, on the hot topic of Marriage Equality.

JORGE: Why is it important for LGBT Latinos to get involved in the marriage equality movement?
ROLAND: The layers and layers of anti-LGBT programming, designed to promote personal and group inferiority, have created a distorted and unhealthy notion of who we are as individuals and as a community. Getting involved in causes of justice and fairness such as marriage equality becomes a great opportunity for Latino LGBT self-discovery and acceptance.

JORGE: I am Gay, and don’t believe in same-sex marriage. Why should I get involved?
ROLAND: We all benefit from expressing what is highest and best in us. Marriage equality by its nature promotes some of the highest values still honored and cherished by humanity, including those of love, pursuit of happiness, protection of families and children, fairness, justice and equality. Marriage equality also addresses issues of prejudice and discrimination. These are long-standing social ills that in extreme cases have led to physical, psychological, sexual violence and even group extermination. The world needs more love, not less.

JORGE: I am a closeted Gay man, and I do not think I am ready to come out. What can I do to help out the movement?
ARI: The movement was started by closeted LGBT community members as there were a lot of real but also imagined risks in the early to mid-1900s. Working with and getting to meet others in the movement will help you gain the understanding and courage you need too come out– as much as is appropriate and safe for you. We need your help! You have a perspective that important. You can also help by contributing money, getting involved in local LGBT groups, send gay-affirmative articles to others and so forth. Stay connected to yourself and to others

JORGE: I volunteered many hours for the official NO on 8 campaign, and I did not like how they ran the campaign. What is different now?
EDDIE: The NO on 8 campaign has heard loudly and clearly that it did not run a winning campaign. They say they’ve learned their lessons and are changing what they are doing and asking us for help. We cannot ask for people to include Latinos and then not participate. NOW it’s all about grassroots community mobilizing. NOW it’s OUR chance make things right.

JORGE: What kind of work should we expect to do as LGBT Latinos in the Marriage Equality Movement?
ARI: As LGBT Latinos, it is our duty to reach out to our loved ones and neighbors. Our involvement in the Marriage Equality Movement can have a huge affect, as we are connected to so many communities, especially those who just became new citizens and are voting in disproportionate numbers. The gay rights movement has become a political campaign. As such, we need to reach VOTERS and your help is needed to talk to voters about gay rights. We need to help them understand that fairness and civil rights applies to all of us even if they are not yet fully supportive or understand our the LGBT communities or lives. Love will prevail!

The Latino Equality Alliance and the Courage Campaign invite you to join the LGBT Justice and Marriage Equality Movement by participating in the upcoming CAMP COURAGE community activist training in East Los Angeles on Saturday and Sunday, August 1-2. To register please visit www.couragecampaign.org or email the Courage Campaign at [email protected]

By Jorge Amaro