Post submitted by John K. Barry, HRC Foundation Board Member
I'll never forget my first day phonebanking for Illinois Unites for Marriage. I was an HRC volunteer, sitting in Lambda Legal's office with colleagues from ACLU and Equality Illinois and other members of the coalition. We were calling for volunteers for the coming week to phonebank constituents of targeted Illinois Senators. On one of my first calls the voice on the other end of the line said, "I hate phonebanking." My rather sarcastic response was, "Well, I hate brushing my teeth, but I still like to be able to chew!" I actually agreed with the point that phonebanking is uncomfortable and taxing. I too don't enjoy phonebanking, canvassing or any of the grassroots work needed to create political change. However, I do enjoy the rights secured from these activities.
The U.S. Constitution describes rights as self-evident. The rights of women and minorities are becoming more self evident every day. However, there was a time when these rights were a question. Currently, the rights of LGBT individuals are a question for some. I am looking forward to the day when all LGBT citizens rights are also guaranteed and described as self evident. This isn't an unattainable goal. Through the work of volunteers, this future is getting closer.
This week, we await news as to whether marriage equality will pass in Illinois. This is an important step not only for the state, but for the country. If Illinois passes legislation, it would be the thirteenth state, plus D.C. with marriage equality on the books. That is a quick change from marriage equality beginning in Massachusetts in 2004.
With all of the states that have passed marriage equality recently, obtaining LGBT rights will have one of its most productive months. May 2013 could become a crucial moment in the LGBT movement as a whole. It certainly will be a pivotal month in marriage equality. All of this momentum toward positive change wouldn't be possible without the volunteers who put in the work to make things happen, if they actually enjoyed doing it or not.
Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to fight for marriage equality in Illinois!