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LETTER TO COMMUNITY: What a week it has been

The last two days have been a civil rights roller coaster ride of events and emotions – not for those with a weak stomach.

This past Tuesday night we learned – unfortunately, to no great surprise – that our community had lost on Amendment One in North Carolina. The 33rd time we have lost such a bitter battle. Here in California, we know all too well the very real disillusionment, anger and searing pain of watching your basic human dignity put up for a popular vote. Such a vote involves watching insulting, deceptive ads and speeches, and defending your relationship and family over and over again. We know how deeply enraging it is to have our humanity, freedom and dignity denied by a vote of the majority. Then adding insult to that injury, Colorado refused a vote on civil unions that was poised to pass and offer some basic protection to gay and lesbian families.

As Wednesday morning dawned, the news was full of messages of support and solidarity for all those who had fought the forward fight in North Carolina; some of the most poignant messages from those of us who have lived through too many similar, painful campaigns.

Then – bam! President Barack Obama became the first sitting President to announce his support of equality in marriage for same-sex couples. With a single sentence he changed the game and the politics of LGBT equality forever. He delivered a message that will continue to reverberate across our nation – that the fundamental American ideals of equality and fairness apply to all Americans. For some in our community, it was a culmination of a lifetime of effort and struggle for justice and equality. For others, it gives hopes that we can truly and fully take care of our families. For our youth, it gives much-needed hope – especially those who've been bullied, mistreated and frightened – and sends a tangible message that we can make it better.

Twenty-four hours – the ride from deep disappointment to an historic moment. A moment that reminds us that change is possible.

Yes, there are still many, many fights left to fight, and much work still to be done. While President Obama’s words are deeply meaningful to us, it doesn’t mean we won’t continue to face many painful losses and setbacks. But moments like yesterday remind us of two truths – the fight requires commitment and courage, even in the face of terrible odds, and we can win if we keep fighting.