Familia es familia. Family is Family

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR


When it comes right down to it, we all want and need the same things in life—health, security, love, and family.  At NCLR, our own mission is fundamentally tied to ensuring full and equal opportunity for Latinos and other Americans to achieve these things.

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Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on two important cases for the LGBT community that will ultimately determine the legal rights of same-sex couples to marry in the United States.

Marriage equality is an important recognition of love between two people, but it is also important for many committed couples in order to build economic stability together and make their families whole.  But that’s not all.

The Court’s decision on whether to recognize LBGT Americans’ right to marry intersects with voting rights, as well as immigration.  We know that in nearly one-half of the binational LGBT couples facing separation, one of the partners is Hispanic.  Many of these spouses have had no choice but to return to their country of origin, separating not only from their partner, but also from their children.

As part of the United for Marriage activities in Washington, DC, I recalled a moment when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to Cesar Chavez during his first fast on behalf of mistreated migrant workers, “Our separate struggles are really one.  A struggle for freedom, for dignity, and for humanity.”

You see, when some of us are denied a fundamental right, it diminishes all of us.

NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President, Wade Henderson together before the March 26 Marriage Equality Rally.
NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President, Wade Henderson together before the March 26 Marriage Equality Rally.

That is why I joined other leaders to stand in favor of marriage equality.  It may come as a surprise to some, but NCLR became one of the first Hispanic organizations to endorse marriage equality.  NCLR’s Board of Directors voted unanimously in support of it.  And we know that the majority of Latinos stand for it, too.  Numerous studies, including this study released last year by NCLR, show that, like the majority of Americans, more than one-half of Latinos support marriage equality and also want measures in place to stop the discrimination that is often waged against LGBT persons.  Many Latinos understand that discrimination is connected.  It may manifest itself in different ways, but the root causes are similar.

LGBT and DREAM Act activist and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas recently put this issue a different way, “My equality is tied to your equality.”

No one can deny the power of this statement, and I couldn’t agree with it more.  My equality is tied to the equality of others.  That’s why I’m in this fight, and I’m inspired by the millions of Americans, gay, straight, White, Black, and Latino, who are with me on this.

I urge the Supreme Court justices to do the right thing and stand up for all families.  I also urge every American that believes in our country and the protections our constitution provides to each and every one of us, including LGBT Americans, to join me in making their support known.  Join us on Facebook, and together we’ll let the Supreme Court know that the majority’s opinion cannot be ignored any longer.  We all want the same things in life, including equality.

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