Sarah April: Why I Volunteer
November 12, 2012
Why do I volunteer for HRC? Not because I am gay. Not because my brother or my mother or my best friend is gay. It’s because I cannot live in a country that is supposed to be based on freedom, yet continues to demoralize and punish those who are “different" such as our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, our family members, or maybe just a friendly stranger passing by.
I remember reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and being inspired by his words where he stated that he could not sit idly by and “not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.” Adding that "freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." What stood out to me more than his own rationale for fighting for equality was his disappointment in the white religious leadership who lacked the moral concern and understanding expected of them. I remember thinking I would never be one of those people who would stand idly by while I knew injustice was occurring—whether it was to me or my neighbor.
I am not alone in my admiration of MLK. Yet today, in 2012, the majority of our country continues to persecute and disenfranchise so many. Have people forgotten MLK’s wisdom that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere?” Why are two people in love not allowed to marry? How does being in a same-sex relationship affect a heterosexual couple’s marriage? Why do people bully and beat up gay youth simply because they are different? When people try to change social stigmas, overcome inequalities in the workplace, protect our youth, and change marriage laws, there is a strong and immediate “moral backlash,” like we saw from the extreme religious right along with Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty refusing to allow the Civil Unions bill to come to a floor vote.
It is with MLK’s legacy in mind—not just his personal determination to fight injustice, but also his disappointment in those he hoped would stand with him—that I have chosen to volunteer with HRC. I have chosen to take a stand and be outspoken about an issue because it is right, and because without support from an entire community, not just the gay community, change could not happen.
The Human Rights Campaign has given me an outlet to take this stand. HRC is committed to overcoming inequality through policy change, leadership, community involvement, and diversity work. HRC’s involvement on a state-by-state basis has had a huge impact on our communities, evidenced by the results on Election night. More importantly, however, HRC’s positioning as a national organization allows its influence to be far-reaching, and its leadership, I believe, will eventually be instrumental in a change at the highest level—the Supreme Court. This is why I volunteer with HRC—because I want to be part of a change for justice and not let apathy or inaction on my part affect the rights of anyone else. I am proud to be part of such an influential and powerful organization that is making an impact on a daily basis.
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