'Until all people have equal rights, especially on this issue of marriage, we can't celebrate'
When it came time for California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris to address the crowd at Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s annual LGBT Garden Party over the weekend, the sound system was no longer working properly.
The the words of the event’s guest of honor could still be heard loud and clear above the crowd.
‘I am a daughter of parents who met when they fought for civil rights in the sixties,’ said Harris, the recipient of this year’s George Moscone Ally Award at LA Pride. ‘I would not be standing here if people did not live and die in a courageous fight to defend everyone’s civil rights. And when I stand here and receive the award and participate in the parade [to be held June 10], it is surely in the spirit of celebration but also with full awareness of the need to continue to fight.’
Harris was the district attorney of San Francisco before being elected California’s attorney general in a close race in 2010.
But she was fighting for LGBT equality long before that as she campaigned against the state’s Proposition 22 in 2000 which restricted marriage to opposite sex couples. It was passed by voters but struck down by the courts in 2008.
She also campaigned against Proposition 8 which banned marriages between same-sex c0uples but was declared unconstitutional by an appellate court earlier this year.
Harris chatted with Gay Star News immediately after her garden party speech and said she has never looked at standing up for LGBT equality as politically risky.
‘I tend not to think of issues from that perspective,’ she said. ‘If I did, we would not having been fighting for not only the LGBT community’s rights in terms of just equality and civil rights, we wouldn’t have fought for a homeowner bill of rights which we are currently doing in Sacramento. There are a number of issues. The reality of it is it’s simply the right thing to do. Certainly sometimes it takes courage to take a position that may not have been fully accepted yet because people haven’t evolved, but that can’t be a deterrent.’
How does she feel about receiving the George Moscone Ally Award, named after the late San Francisco mayor who was murdered along with Harvey Milk in 1977. It is given to a non-LGBT ally who furthers human rights and takes a leadership role in involvement or speaking out on LGBT issues.
‘It’s thrilling,’ she said. ‘All of us have been together since the fight against [Proposition] 22. We were together against Prop. 8. I helped some of the first couples on that Feb.14 of 2004 in City Hall in San Francisco. The road has been long, the road is still going but it’s a time to celebrate the fact that we’re all in it together.’
‘But it is also a time to rededicate ourselves to the struggle and the fight because it’s not over,’ Harris added. ‘Until all people have equal rights, especially on this issue of marriage, we can’t celebrate. We have to fight.’