I grew up poor in the projects of San Antonio, Texas, in a Mexican-American family, in a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood. On the Westside -- just like Mayor Julian Castro and Congressman Joaquin Castro -- but on the poorer side of the Westside. I've known that I was gay since the first grade. But while Latinos are widely known for having close-knit, large extended families, certain issues we just don't talk about. And this was one of them. I finally came out to my mom at 22 and then we proceeded to never speak about it again. Don't get me wrong, my family was supportive. But they didn't say the words and I never asked for them. Until now.
Why talk about this now? This week the Supreme Court is hearing two landmark cases on gay rights. The first, United States v. Windsor, challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows the federal government to discriminate against legally married same-sex couples. The other case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenges California's Proposition 8, an amendment approved by California voters in 2008 to strip same-sex couples of the freedom to marry. But it's not just the Supreme Court talking about marriage for gay couples -- it's in the news and popping up in discussion at dinner tables in every state. It's a perfect time to start the conversation with our families, and I call on all my hermanos y hermanas to lend your voices to a topic that silently resonates with every Latino family in America.