“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals” ~ Martin Luther King, J
There are many things to be grateful on this New Year that has just begun. The world did not end on December 21, 2012, and we still alive and able to have dreams and make them come true. To remind us of how important is to dream, the first holiday of the year is reserved to a man who fought for a dream without giving up, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Mr. King was a chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement and it is believed that African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality during the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement than the previous 350 years. He was assassinated in 1968 and soon after his wife, Coretta Scott King, established The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as the official living memorial dedicated to advancing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and on that same year labor unions in contract negotiations started promoting Mr. King’s birthday as a holiday, which in 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed into law. The holiday was celebrated for the first in January 20th 1986 and since then is celebrated on the third Monday of January. Dr. King’s dream was to have a nation in which people would be valued by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. His dream, as narrow as it might sound, it could be broaden to include every human characteristic, besides character, and every situation in which a human being could be involved. His dream could be extrapolated to almost every situation; because there is no situation in which people wanted to be valued for any other reason than its own character and what it is made of; including marriage.
The year of 2012 was another great year for the LGBT community’s fight for equality. By the beginning of the year, on February 8, 2012, one day after Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples because it basically deprived same-sex couples of “the status and the dignity of marriage,” Washington state lawmakers voted 55-43 to approve gay marriage. On that same day, Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, stating that California’s decision was the latest evidence that the current of our nation’s history always moves forward to greater protection of the freedom of individuals and that that was what was stake in that decision, declared his commitment to seek a similar legislation in Maryland. Then, on February 23, 2012, the Maryland Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage and on March 1, 2012, Governor O’Malley, after stating that “all children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law,” signed a measure to legalize gay marriage, joining other seven states – Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont, plus the District of Columbia – that had already legalized same-sex marriage.
During the middle of the year, things continued getting better. On May 09, 2012, President Obama openly affirmed his continuing support for same-sex marriage expressing that marriage equality for all people is an idea whose time has come, and boldly stating that gay and lesbian Americans deserve full marriage equality because LGBT people should be fully and equally part of the fabric of our society. Later on Thursday, July 19, 2012, the White House honored ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things across the country to ensure safety, dignity, and equality for the LGBT community, as part of the Champions of Change program that was created as a part of President Obama's Winning the Future initiative. Also on July of 2012, when the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, the Scouts, as well as organizations that give support to it, came under steady pressure from gay rights organizations that were outraged over the policy and thanks to this pressure, Intel, which was identified as the Scouts’ largest corporate funder, announced that it was no longer giving to the youth organization, which cost the Scouts a huge sum of money. On that same month, a Chicago-based LGBT advocacy group reported that the restaurant Chick-Fil-A, which publicly confirmed its anti-gay stance, agreed to cease donations to right-wing groups that oppose same-sex marriage and declared that the company “will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation.”
By the end of the year, things finally started getting into the right place. On Thursday, August 23, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the 2012 Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair, which was taking place in Washington DC, by telling them that gay rights are continue to be a top priority for President Barack Obama and his administration. On October 18, 2012, in the case of Windsor v. United States, a divided the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, New York, recognized that the gay population has “suffered a history of discrimination” and stated that Section 3 of DOMA, a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. And on November 6, 2012, same-sex marriage was approved by statewide popular votes for the first time, when state voters of Maryland and Maine approved measures to allow same-sex marriage.
As Charles Dickens stated, there is no better time than Christmas to open up one’s heart and celebrate, not only with the people and for the people we love, but also for the existence of the entire humanity, especially those leaders who fight every day for the recognition and enforcement of more and stronger human rights. In that same way, there is no better time than Christmas for reexamining one’s life, values, and accomplishments and to have the choice, or the initiative, to begin, or continue, a path that better fits our dreams and takes us closer to our goals. In life there is no better recipe for success than to set for oneself, not one huge long-term goal but, a lot of short-term goals that would eventually take us to whatever our main goal, and ultimate dream, might be. Mr. King even said himself, “faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase,” and ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Christmas is with no doubt “the most wonderful time of the year,” however, we must find reason in every day and in every little thing around us to keep the Christmas spirit in our hearts and our lives during the entire year. Every new day we are wiser than yesterday and younger than tomorrow. Therefore, every new day is a new reason to celebrate, a new gift from above, and therefore, a new reason to be better, and move one step forward to our dreams.
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ~ Charles Dickens