The National Equality March in Washington, D.C., scheduled for October 10-11, 2009, presented Americans an opportunity to offer their three-minute speeches for selection for this event. They called it “March Equality Idol Auditions.” They asked that the theme reflect the reasons why it was important for the speaker to attend the March in Washington. The voting between the top five speeches will be on Facebook and YouTube. I only found out about the competition yesterday afternoon and I had to write the speech and get it filmed and sumbitted by today, Thursday September 17, 2009 at 5:00 PST. My video turned out very nicely, I think. Because of the lack of sufficient technology, I couldn’t find a way to download it onto my computer from the camera I have, and therefore, I didn’t submit it. I must admit I am deeply disappointed right now. I will always wonder if my speech would have been selected, even for the top five finalists.
First, I am proud that my husband, David, figured out how to get the video onto our computer so that I can share it with you here. Second, the text of the speech follows.
Here is the text of my speech. I hope you enjoy it.
A Family Tradition of Hope
by James C. Glica-Hernandez
Written September 16, 2009
Three weeks before my tenth birthday in 1969, the Stonewall Riots erupted. Being an avid reader of the newspaper even at that age, I knew what was happening in New York. Men in dresses were fighting against the tyranny of bigotry and second-class citizenry in the greatest metropolis of the United States. The truth is, I didn’t know what to think about seeing gay people in the light of day because I had already been questioning my own sexuality in the haze of shame that every young, gay boy felt back then, and probably still does.
A mere nine years later, then having a wife and child, and having come out to my family, I found myself marching under a drizzly Sacramento sky, in my first gay pride parade at the urging, and in the presence, of my beloved father, Floyd Glica. When I protested about marching in the rain, Dad told me, “Jim, if we don’t stand up for who you are today, you will always be trampled upon by those who don’t like you just because you’re gay. We have to march.”
That day in 1978, I learned about gay pride from my fearless, remarkable Dad.
I am now the patriarch of my family, including my husband, five children, and nine grandchildren. I have seen someone in every generation of my family, as well as my students, wrestle with questions about their own sexuality. Sadly, they’ve learned that they will have a lesser experience in the U.S. as a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person than a straight person would.
My presence at the 2009 National Equality March is borne out of my love for my family, friends, and students. Together, we demand the necessary leadership from President Obama and Congress that creates a voice, like my father’s, that mandates equality and freedom for all.
The late Senator Edward Kennedy, arguably the most valiant warrior for equality ever to have graced the Senate floor, made a vital statement in 2007 regarding ENDA. He said, “America stands for justice for all. Congress must make clear that when we say ‘all,’ we mean all. America will never be America until we do.”
The Chávez-Glica-Hernandez family thanks you for this opportunity to join with your families in a community of hope, power, and vibrant leadership to ensure that we all… Senator Kennedy’s all… my father’s all… are able to participate and contribute to our society as free men and women; free from the branding of sexuality, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability, or economic status, as it must be in these United States of America.
Sometimes, change happens all at once. Usually, however, it happens in tiny increments, especially when it comes to social change.
United States Senator Barbara Boxer (California) recently distributed an e-mail indicating that she is joining a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The passage of ENDA would prohibit all employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and other groups who hire and fire staff from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against anyone on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.
This bill has already been supported by high profile national civil rights and labor organizations and more than fifty Fortune 500 companies.
One must wonder if the significance of this era is being missed by those who feel they are not directly involved in the movement toward the eradication of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender citizens?
Is it even possible to realize how important a particular shift in public perception is until after the transition is complete? The movements to ensure a woman’s right to vote and the acknowledgement of and action against racial discrimination began in small ways, but it wasn’t until the lion’s share of the legislation was passed that we could begin to fathom just how pervasive the blight of hatred and disrespect had been and how far we were stepping ahead.
Senator Boxer’s note to all of us was particularly welcome given that President Obama has shown so little dynamic leadership in relation to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policies currently on the books in our country.
The best news about ENDA is that it is a bipartisan effort by our Federal legislators. Nothing gives us greater hope for our future than when, on both sides of the aisle, our elected officials choose to correct a horrible injustice in our laws and societal patterns in such a dynamic way.
Slowly, the awakening is beginning that each person, no matter how they are identified in the little boxes on most forms, has the right to all the freedoms promised in our United States Constitution. This new effort is one more important step.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the passage of this bill!