As a nation, we are inextricably molded by a common – yet deeply personal – ideal. Beyond faith, politics and profession, freedom stands at the crux of our American construct. As demonstrated throughout our history, freedom is what galvanizes our collective consciousness and propels us forward in times of crisis.
As individuals, too, we have used the ideological construct of freedom to fight for those “truths we find to be self-evident.” From Susan B. Anthony to Martin Luther King Jr., we have each used our right to freedom as a charge to overcome the injustices of our time.
As an African-American, you have used our nation’s fundamental construct to break the bonds of slavery and overcome a culture of subjugation. As a woman, you have rallied behind our common American ideal to confront discrimination and socioeconomic inequity. And as Americans, we have fought and died to protect the basic freedoms of humankind.
Today though, there is a new voice – the voice of our neighbors, friends and family – rising up for that same right we’ve each fought to gain and protect. Today is a moment for our nation when, as President Johnson aptly described, “history and fate meet…to shape a turning point in [our] unending search for freedom.”
Recast, his remarks shared in pursuit of civil rights shape our understanding of a new movement, my movement – the Equal Rights Movement – and our collective fight to realize the American ideal.
Amplified by the Supreme Court as it convenes to determine the course of equal rights legislation, that turning point has put our society’s beliefs in discord. We are divided by moral and social interpretations of homosexuality and moved to act in defense of our personal values.
Yet, as a nation we’ve let our division blind us from the common ideal that has propelled America forward. We’ve failed to realize that the debate isn’t between opposing morals and values, its in support of our common belief in freedom.
I don’t ask you to accept my values, nor do I challenge your moral convictions – rather I challenge you to consider the aims of my movement, the Equal Rights movement, within the context of freedom.
President Kennedy shared an ideal for our nation when he asked “whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” My hope is that our nation’s Court and our culture look beyond moral differences to reaffirm that ideal and freedoms of all people – extending equal rights to LGBT Americans.