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Dear BRO Supporters: A letter from Roey Thorpe

Dear BRO Supporters,

I just got back from Washington, DC, on Wednesday afternoon, where I was attending a meeting at HRC headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was for state organizations that had been through anti-marriage amendment battles to share information with the many states that are expected to face such amendments in the next couple of years. I was there with Aisling Coghlan, the wonderful campaign manager of the No on 36 campaign, and we were talking with people from all over the country about our experiences.

While I was there, we got the news about the California court decision that declared it unconstitutional to deny same sex couples their right to marry. It was so exciting! I had dinner with Shannon Minter, the attorney who actually argued the California case, and got to share in his victory celebration. And the people from Equality California (the California equivalent of BRO) were also thrilled—it was a great party!

The moment was a bit poignant for me, because it just so happens that I was with these very same people several months ago when the California marriages were declared invalid by their Supreme Court. I remember so clearly their sadness and loss, and my feeling of helplessness at their despair. To see them celebrate, and to share their jubilation, was so rewarding and felt so right after having been with them when they were down.

On the long plane ride home, I was thinking about our own case, and wondering if we would be celebrating when we get our decision. We expect a decision in Li vs. Oregon any week now, and I started to worry about what the outcome might be. The ACLU did a fantastic job arguing this case, and there’s a possibility that we could win and that our marriages would be declared valid and the court would say that Oregon had to have civil unions from now on. That’s the best case scenario, and it would be a fantastic outcome, for sure.

But then I started to think about what it would be like if we don’t win this case, and how hard it would be to lose after losing so painfully in November. That could definitely happen, and if it does, we have got to stick together. We have got to remember that we are going to win some and lose some, and that this is a long journey that didn’t begin last year—it began decades ago when the first GLBT people dared to stand up for themselves, and the first allies dared to stand up with them. Our heroic county commissioners threw open a gate, and we stepped onto the road, and we did that together. We did it in the name of equality and justice, but above all we did it in the name of love.

A year ago, we did such a courageous thing, and doing it changed us. It raised our expectations of ourselves, our neighbors, and our state. We got a taste of equality, even though many of us feared it would be fleeting. No one can take that experience away from us, and even if this court decision does not go our way, we will never go back and we will never lower our expectations again. If we win in court, we will celebrate and we will be joyous and relieved and hopeful. But if we lose, we must be determined and strong and uncompromising, and we must remember that we are in this for the long haul.

I want to make sure we are ready for either outcome, and that even if we lose we don’t question our actions or ourselves. I am so proud of all of us, and so honored to have been a part of what was truly a life-changing experience a year ago. Whether we win or lose this particular court decision, in the long term, we ARE winning, and we WILL win equality. All of the momentum is in our direction, and the progress that has been made in Massachusetts and California, and maybe even Washington State and Connecticut this year are part of that. And we are part of it, too, an important part. We have to step back, and take the view that is both long and wide, and understand that we are part of a movement that is international and over 75 years old. Look how far we’ve come! Our predecessors wouldn’t believe we’re even discussing marriage equality in a serious way.

So let’s make sure we stick together. I’m hoping I’ll be seeing you all at a party and not at a vigil. But either way, we will have work to do the next day and the day after that, and I am proud and grateful to be doing it with all of you.

Warmly,
Roey
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