I walked into the convention hall today, on my way to the LGBT Caucus (and on my way to pick up a credential to get me into the Pepsi Center today), when I saw San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome. After what he did in San Francisco, and what came of it on the California Supreme Court, I couldn’t just pass him by. (It didn’t hurt that he was taller and more handsome in person than he is in his pictures.) I had to stop and thank him.
I told him, I was just on my way to the LGBT caucus and that just wanted to stop and thank him. To which he responded “Thank you!” One of his aides overheard me say where I was going, and invited me to walk with them since they were going to the LGBT caucus too.
And then we stepped into the hall, and heard the announcement that Del Martin just passed away. She died quietly, surrounded by her family and friends. There was a gasp, and a moment of stunned silence.
And as I thought about Del, I realized that before she died she got to do something that perhaps she never thought she would: after 55 years together, she got to marry the woman she loved. Something Gavin Newsome helped happen, and something that some people with deep-pockets want to keep us from doing.
Mayor Newsome had only just heard of Del’s passing himself, and spoke of his experience meeting Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, and helping them get married. I was typing as fast as I could, but I didn’t manage to capture of his words. Still, they are paraphrased below.
…They are two people who defined love and constancy, and defined — to my mind — what marriage is supposed to be about.
…They were able to ultimately live their life out loud. Now the questions is will we be able to offer the same chance to thousands of couples in California. They will do everything in their power to stop us.
[Now we face a vote on] whether [Del and Phyllis’] lives matter, and whether their marriage matters as much as mine. Let me assure you their lives matter as much, and so do the lives of millions of Americans like them.
…Let me just end by saying, we need your help. Massachusetts and its leadership, the LGBT community and its leadership … we need your help to defeat proposition 8 in California. This will be a monumental setback in our community.
…I believe this is the second most important election in the country, and some will argue that it may even be more important. This is bout basic human dignity.
Sitting here at the convention, I feel good knowing that there are people who are on our side, and — I dare say — have done more to prove it than John McCain and/or the Republicans have ever thought about doing. After her big speech at the convention, Michelle Obama’s next stop was to speak at the LGBT delegates luncheon. Last night I sat and listened to Hillary Clinton include gay rights in her speech.
And in Barrack Obama, we have a nominee who stood with the majority in the Senate, and opposed attempts to bring a constitutional amendment against marriage equality to a vote. We have a nominee who supports a full repeal of DOMA. We have a candidate who opposes constitutional amendments like the one on the ballot in California. We have a candidate who supports full recognition of our relationships, and support adoption for our families.
Our other choice is a candidate who proudly led the effort to ban marriage equality in his state, and supports the amendment in California. Our other choice is a candidate who voted for DOMA. Our other choice is a candidate who opposes civil unions and full legal recognition of our relationships. Our other choice is a candidate who opposes adoption for our families. Our other choice is a candidate who would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would almost certainly overturn Lawrence v. Texas.
Compare them for yourself, and the choice is clear.
And then ask yourself what I asked myself. What’s the best way to remember Del between now and November? How can we best honor and continue the work that she started and carried on for longer than I and some of the rest of us have been alive?
Again, I think the choice is clear.