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Thankful for equality

By: Moises Echeverria

A few weeks ago marriage equality prevailed in the state of Oklahoma. This historic event was welcomed with support and opposition in the state and the nation. On that day, Monday, Oct. 6, a judge married two women on the outside steps of the Tulsa County Courthouse. I watched the couple face each other and be married, knowing well that they had been fighting for this right for many years. Their marriage grants them legal rights and responsibilities afforded to all married couples. As I stood there, I realized I was part of a historic moment and that someday I would speak to future generations about being there witnessing that event.

Everyday as I hear from intolerant individuals who express their frustrations about others, I am reminded of OCCJ’s vision to eliminate bias, bigotry and racism in our state and in our generation. I often think of lessons we can learn from history when dealing with divisive issues. Women’s suffrage and interracial marriage are recent examples in the history of the United States where the government grants legal rights to individuals who were previously denied. Several decades later we seldom hear harsh opposition to these progressive decisions. Yet, if we were to go back in time we would hear and see rigorous arguments for and against those issues. We would witness the dishonorable acts of individuals who opposed those monumental events. Do you think future generations will look at the struggle for marriage equality in the same way? Will we honor those who fought for these rights of marriage “for all” in the same light as other civil rights heroes?

Marriage equality in our state brings us one step closer towards equality for all. However, our work is far from over. Perspectives on social issues evolve over time. The intolerance that existed on Oct. 5, 2014, in regards to marriage equality is still prevalent in Oklahoma and across the U.S. today. Your support is crucial as OCCJ continues to carry out its mission of promoting respect and understanding through education, advocacy and dialogue. Our programs present individuals with information, interactions and eye-opening experiences they would not normally be exposed to on a daily basis. These experiences allow them an opportunity to form their own conclusions, visions and dreams. When everyone feels welcomed and safe, when we all work together toward inclusion - not just tolerance – our community will flourish.

Congratulations to all who have given so much of themselves to bring marriage equality to our state.

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