A Note from Jarrett T. Barrios - November 2009

A Note from GLAAD President Jarrett T. Barrios
If you couldn’t marry the person you love, what would you do? This is a question that everyone, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight, needs to ask themselves. It is a question that millions of voters have grappled with from Maine to Washington and everywhere in between. It is a question that I have asked myself many times at home with my husband Doug. The answer to this question is that we must demand that we are accepted and valued for our contributions to this country. And this is what GLAAD works towards every day. That the victims of heinous and cowardly acts have their stories told to put a stop to hate violence. That images of our lives are displayed in the mosaic of faces that make up this great country we live in so that we can not only gain legal equality but full equality.

Although the recent elections ushered in a mix of inspiration and disappointment, we should take solace in the fact that the citizens of Kalamazoo, Michigan and the great state of Washington, along with thousands of voters in Maine, took a stand to make sure that all people are treated fairly whether in the workplace or at home. In Kalamazoo, residents voted to include gay and transgender neighbors in a non-discrimination ordinance so members of our community are not fired for being who they are. In Washington, residents voted in support of legal protections for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. In Maine, the slim majority that voted to take away the basic rights of their fellow Americans campaigned on the only issue they know: fear and misinformation. It is now our duty to define what these events mean to us. I believe that these elections act as stepping stones on the path to full equality. Though every result may not go our way, the biggest victory comes from the exposure of LGBT people to our friends and neighbors.

The historic recognition of our relationships in Washington state came when Washingtonians heard our stories and got to know loving and committed gay and lesbian couples – who just want to take care of each other and their families. The late Harvey Milk proffered the notion that “If they know us, they don’t vote against us.” We must continue to heed Milk’s words and share our stories so that the truth about our lives and families will reach every corner of every state.

GLAAD Senior Media Field Strategist, Adam Bass was on the ground in Washington in late August and from the middle of September straight through to after Election Day working with Washington Families Standing Together to raise support for Referendum 71 which kept the state’s expanded domestic partnership law. GLAAD was there to field reporter inquiries and to help local LGBT couples and allies share their stories in the media. GLAAD organized press conferences, promoted letters to the editors, developed positive messages and spread the word about this important law. Adam organized a letter to the editor campaign which drew 150 letters to papers large and small. I have made my pledge to do whatever it takes and personally helped call voters in Washington to share my story. People told their personal stories to their neighbors, through letters to the editor, and these stories persuaded voters to approve the referendum.

As a member of GLAAD, you have decided to stand up with me against hate and fear. To make sure that our truth remains self-evident. Thank you for taking a stand. Together we will continue on our path towards full equality, always putting one foot in front of the other no matter the odds or obstacles that may block our way.

Thank you for your continued support.


Jarrett T. Barrios