Today, on the anniversary of the Stonewall riot that lit the spark of the gay and transgender civil rights movement here in the United States, MADRE takes a moment to pause and reflect on the momentous Supreme Court decision that struck down the legally enshrined inequality of the Defense of Marriage Act, and the change we see sweeping across not just one nation, but the entire world.
MADRE is based in New York City, just a few miles from the Stonewall Bar. We were founded by a courageous group of women who recognized that the oppression and inequality they faced was a mirror image of the oppression and inequality so many others faced worldwide. Today we stand on the shoulders of those women, and the view is very different.
Today, we and our family members, friends and colleagues have rights we did not have only a few days ago, and beyond the respect and dignity of being equal under the law, the security those rights afford to all of us, and our families, is tangible and real.
As we celebrate these victories with all our hearts, we see the work still to be done. In May, our New York City community was shaken when two gay men were attacked in Midtown, then another was murdered in the West Village, only to be followed by another assault in the same neighborhood.
In Haiti, we are supporting our partners as they cautiously, and at great risk to their own safety, begin to build a movement for equality in the face of brutal violence against those whose sexual orientations or gender identities do not conform to a narrow standard.
When President Obama spoke hopefully of the future of equality while visiting Senegal this week and of the inspiration he draws from the example set by former South African President Nelson Mandela, Senegal President Macky Sall stated publicly that he has no intention of de-criminalizing homosexuality in his own country, where being gay can result in imprisonment and torture.
As our thoughts are with Mandela now, whose country legalized equal marriage in 2006, we draw strength and hope from his words:
I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.
This week, we have seen some of our humanity restored. To ensure that our humanity, equality and rights are kept safe across the globe, the struggle continues.
To find out more about MADRE’s work on LGBT rights in Haiti, click here.