There were a lot of things I could have done this past weekend. Get to that pile of laundry, hit the pillow for some sorely-needed shut-eye, and, of course, spend quality time with my wife. But I hopped on a plane to meet with 23 other people at a hotel at the Dallas Fort Worth airport. Why?
The reason we gathered was to see how we could seize this special moment in history, to think outside of the box about how we can accelerate achieving full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in this nation. I had no idea who was on the list of attendees, by the way (see the list below the fold).
The result of our work is The Dallas Principles. The Preamble:
President Obama and Congress pledged to lead America in a new direction that included civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. We now sit at a great moment in our history that inspires the nation to return to its highest ideals and greatest promise. We face a historic opportunity to obtain our full civil rights; this is the moment for change. No delay. No excuses.Here in my home state of North Carolina, we enthusiastically voted for change in 2008, turning out in unprecedented numbers, flipping North Carolina to Blue in the presidential election; we also elected a woman as our governor for the first time.
Nearly forty years ago, a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people stood up to injustice at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. In doing so, they submitted themselves to bodily harm and criminal prosecution. Their demand was simple — equal protection under the law.
Still today, full civil rights has eluded the same community that rioted forty years ago. Instead, untold sums of resources have been spent to divide our nation and turn our lives into a political football.
At several junctures in American history, the stars have aligned to deliver the promise of equal protection under the law to those previously denied. At this unique time in history, our nation must once again exercise the great tradition of making its people equal.
Justice has too long been delayed. A clear path toward full civil equality for the LGBT community is overdue and must come now.
Using fear and misunderstanding to justify discrimination is no longer acceptable in this nation. Those content with the way things are will be judged harshly by history. Those who do not actively advance these ideals or offer excuses will be judged just as harshly. Those who attempt to divide our community or to delay and deny action on civil equality, waiting for the right moment to arrive, will be held accountable.
We reject the idea that honoring the founding principles of our country is controversial. We believe in the inherent human dignity of all people. No longer will we submit our children, our family, our friends and ourselves as a political tool for any Party or ideology. A new day has arrived.
Despite these landmark changes, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians, our newly Blue state does not see us as equal citizens under the law. We have not passed state hate crimes legislation; we can be fired from our jobs because of our sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. My marriage to my wife Kate — we wed in Canada in 2004, is not recognized in this state. We are strangers under the law.
Sadly, too many of my fellow residents and state elected officials do not yet believe in extending full civil rights to tax-paying LGBT North Carolinians. It doesn’t look like positive change here will come at the state level any time soon, either. That’s why we need to work together at the federal level to bring us closer to full equality now.
The Principles, Goals, and Call to Action are at my pad.