Changing Hearts and Minds on Marriage Equality
March 21, 2013 by Rohmteen Mokhtari, Coordinator, Family Project
The scariest moment of my life was a pause.
It was when I was in ninth grade and I was sitting in my living room across from my parents.
“I’m...” I started saying and then there was a long and terrifying pause, “gay.”
For me and the thousands of others who can no doubt recall similar moments, coming out was a deeply personal act.
But nearly four decades ago, Harvey Milk insisted that it was also a revolutionary act. Today we realize just how right he was.
This week a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that a record 58% of Americans (including 81% of those under 30) support marriage equality. This is up from 38% support for marriage equality in the same poll ten years ago.
And as the Post’s Chris Ciliza notes, what’s remarkable isn’t just that a new generation is embracing fairness for gay and lesbian couples but also that “every generation is growing more in favor… as they age.”
In other words, many fair-minded Americans are changing their minds.
And if you ask them why they now support marriage equality, there’s a good chance you’ll hear the name of someone they know.
For Sen. Rob Portman that name was Will - his son who came out to him two years ago.
Last week Sen. Portman explained how that moment impacted his decision to become the first Republican in the U.S. Senate to embrace marriage equality, “it allowed me to think about this issue from a new perspective and that’s as a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister have,”
When it’s your son or your daughter or your neighbor or your friend - when those being denied marriage equality have names and faces - hearts and minds are changed.
This is what we see in the polls and this is what I’ve seen in my life.
My parents immigrated to this country from Iran thirty years ago. When I came out to them I was only the second gay person they had ever met and issues of LGBT rights were definitely not on their radar.
But, as Harvey Milk told us long ago, there is great power in the personal connections that bind families and friends together.
On Tuesday, nearly a decade after I sat across from them in our living room, I will join United for Marriage in front of the Supreme Court to stand up for fairness and equality for loving same-sex couples.
My mom will be by my side.