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Standing By

Standing By


Shannon Minter argued in California's supreme court for my right to marry. I won't rest until he's protected in a trans-inclusive ENDA

My partner, Julie, and I were part of the overflow crowd watching the oral arguments of the California supreme court's same-sex marriage case at the San Francisco Main Library auditorium back in March. It was broadcast on California's government public access channel, and let me tell you, it was like being at a sports bar for the Super Bowl -- people were cheering and hissing for two solid hours.

The superstar of the day, the man whose forceful eloquence and grace under pressure gave us all such a feeling of confidence that the court would indeed see the light on this issue, was National Center for Lesbian Rights lead attorney Shannon Minter.

Along with Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart and the many others who prepared the case and spoke to the justices that day, Shannon Minter helped earn all of us same-sex couples the right to marriage equality here in the state of California. (Like all good technorati queers, I blogged about it.)

On the afternoon the landmark May 15 ruling was announced, Julie and I brought our two daughters to the San Francisco LGBT Community Center to celebrate the victory with our community. Ask anyone who was there and they'll tell you the thrill that went across the room as center executive director Rebecca Rolfe spoke the simple words "Welcome to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center" with the mindful, measured tone that allowed us all to feel the reality of a genuinely united LGBT movement. I'm talking especially about the "T" here.

As we stood there smiling and laughing and sharing happy, triumphant LGBT embraces with one another, I felt unable to fully express the depth of my gratitude -- to Shannon in particular.

But it wasn't until a week later that a lesbian friend in the Castro pointed out to me (Me: Mr. Thoughtful Lesbian and Trans Ally) the crazy irony that a trans man had clinched the marriage equality victory for gay men and lesbians -- despite the fact that our community has not been exactly 100% unqualified in support of his rights. Of course, I'm referring to last year's battle over the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). When the time comes to fight for that bill in Congress again, I hope we can all come together and secure the version that also includes gender identity.

Think about it. How can it be that if Shannon chose to take his prodigious legal talents to any mainstream law firm in most parts of this country, despite his incredible abilities, he could be fired at any time simply for being trans -- and have no protection or legal recourse?

All this time that Shannon has been fighting for us, what have we been doing for him? Yes, let's beat the upcoming antigay marriage ballot measures in November, but let's also truly stand up for equality for all. Now is also the time to be an ally to the transgender movement. (To learn about the transgender referendum on this November's ballot in Maryland's Montgomery County, go visit the Basic Rights Montgomery website).

As a gender-variant butch dyke, I feel such affinity with my FTM brothers that it almost sounds like too much of an Us and Them distinction to make, but in this moment I hereby re-proclaim my commitment: Shannon is getting me my rights; I'm damn well getting him his.

So skip the toasters and glassware for us, and make a generous donation to the NCLR's transgender lawdivision. And go find out about the more than 360 civil rights organizations who have banded together to fight for a United ENDA. And, of course, don't forget to help keep our marriage rights in California by giving to Equality for All.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Jenni Olson