This blog entry by ACLU of Montana LGBT Organizer Liz Welch first appeared on www.fairisfairmt.org.

Pardon us while we catch our breath.

Tuesday night was a monumental occasion for those who believe in fairness, equality and civil rights for all people. 

It was a watershed experience to watch Maine become the first state where the public voted for marriage equality – in essence, FOR LOVE.  As the night progressed, we could see the momentum of affirmation for LGBT rights sweep across the country. Maryland affirmed same sex marriage. Minnesota shot down a discriminatory constitutional amendment narrowly defining marriage. Legislators and judges who had supported LGBT rights were retained in their posts, vindicating their pro-LGBT positions.  The first openly gay congresswoman will take office from her home state of Wisconsin. Other lesbian and gay legislators around the country were elected in their home states.

And, then Washington state rounded out the experience by passing a referendum allowing same sex marriage.  It was a clean sweep!

What was the magic bullet that changed public perception to recognize same sex relationships?  Love, commitment, and family.  Every time.  Having volunteered in Maine during the campaign, I can tell you that every conversation they had included those three things.  They are all what matters when it comes to the issue of fairness.  We can talk about all the rights denied to same sex couples when their relationships are not recognized. We can show you the harms that couples, like our plaintiffs in the Donaldson case, have encountered. We can show you statistics about how children do better in homes where they are loved irregardless of the parents being same sex.  But all of it comes down to LOVE, COMMITMENT and FAMILY. When we look at relationships through those filters and see the people that are living there, it can change hearts and minds. When you talk to your friends, family and colleagues about the actual people whose lives are affected, it can change others’ hearts.  Because it’s hard to look in the eyes of another and be able to say it fair to discriminate against them.

We are asking you to celebrate the moment. Revel in it.  Roll around in the incredible feeling of love and acceptance that this election affords us.

And then roll up your sleeves and help us get Montana back on track.  We have so much to overcome in this state, but the national momentum is with us. We know we can do it. We will be asking a lot of our fellow Montanans in the coming months.  Are you ready? Can you help us bring this same inclusiveness to our great state?