The Power of Personal Stories in the Fight for LGBT Equality

Reuters has an excellent piece on the power of the personal stories of gay and lesbian couples who wished to have the right to marry in the three states that recently passed marriage equality legislation: Washington, Maryland and New Jersey (the last vetoed by Governor Chris Christie). In the piece, entitled In three states, personal stories changed gay marriage, writer Mary Slosson highlights “personal experiences of friends, family or constituents persuaded a crucial group of Republican lawmakers to vote for same-sex marriage.” Below is an excerpt:

Republican Maureen Walsh spoke of being frustrated that her lesbian daughter could not legally marry her girlfriend.

“She’s met the person that she loves very much and someday, by God, I want to throw a wedding for that kid,” Walsh told her fellow legislators on the floor of the House. “I hope she won’t feel like a second-class citizen.”


Video of Walsh’s speech went viral on the Internet, scoring millions of views on YouTube, after George Takei, an outspoken gay rights activist famous for his role as Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek,” posted it on his Facebook page.

Walsh then began receiving an outpouring of international support, with phone calls and text messages from Lebanon, Turkey, Sweden, Iceland, Japan, Germany and more.

But Walsh said one story made her feel that her vote, which helped the measure clear the House 55 to 43, was worth whatever cost she may face for her stance.

“My daughter got a text from a young girl after I gave my speech that said, ‘Will you please thank your mother? My mother hasn’t talked to me for three years since I came out to her. My mom called me and told me she loved me tonight,'” Walsh said.

It’s important to remember as we continue the fight for full equality for all LGBT people that our stories have this kind of impact. Not only in the grand scale of changing the hearts and minds of our lawmakers but also in changing the hearts and minds of individuals. It’s stories like this that remind us that the wins (and even the losses) can provide a positive effect not only for ourselves but for others on a very granular, personal level. This is an example of why we fight. We fight for ourselves, but we also fight for those like the young girl of the text. In this way, our movement has the way to bring together families beyond our own; heal them and move us all closer toward full equality.

I encourage you to read the full article which also profiles New Jersey state Senator Diane Allen and Maryland Delegate Wade Kach who’s story speaking with a gay couple who are fighting cancer as well as for equality is espeically touching and tragic; further exemplifing the need for same-sex marriage equality.

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