As a gay Californian, I am at last equal in the eyes of the law with the demise of Proposition 8. California recently became the 13th state in the nation to allow gay marriage, thanks to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which effectively overturned Proposition 8. Now millions of Californians will have full marriage equality for good.
As an American, for the first time in my 63 years, I will have the exact same rights as my older brother. The Supreme Court affirmed this when it also struck down government-sanctioned discrimination by declaring the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion was far-reaching. Since I live in one of 13 states (plus the District of Columbia) that allow gay marriage, if I get married, I am entitled to all 1,142 federal marriage benefits, just like my straight brother.
Marriage Equality Needs to Be Bipartisan
I have been fighting for gay rights since 1978, when I worked to help defeat Proposition 6, the Briggs Initiative, which was on the November ballot that year. Prop 6 would have prohibited gay and lesbian teachers in all California public schools.
I worked behind the scenes with a group of other young Republicans to garner GOP opposition to that hateful and frightening initiative. Prop 6 was leading in the polls until former Gov. Ronald Reagan came out strongly in opposition to it. Ronald Reagan was gearing up to run for president in 1980, so it was particularly courageous of him to take on the far right and rain on their parade. His support translated into a dramatic 11th-hour turnaround, and Prop 6 went down to a resounding defeat.
Now, 35 years later, all Californians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), along with the residents of Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Delaware, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., will have equal marriage rights in this country just as our founding fathers spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. That's 13 down and 37 more to go!
Republican leaders and elected officials need to do the right thing. The party of Abraham Lincoln should once again be the party of equality. More Republicans should join President Obama and so many other Democrats in the fight for the freedom to marry for all LGBT Americans. Ronald Reagan would undoubtedly be championing that fight if he were alive today.