Arizona’s new racist and anti-immigrant law affects the gay community

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I am a proud gay Latino of immigrant parents. I was born in Los Angeles, California and my parents came to the United States in the 1970s. They were both born in Mexico and came to the US when they were teenagers. Since then, they’ve become naturalized United States citizens. Like millions of immigrants from all over the world, they came to the United States looking for new opportunities, aspiring for the American Dream.

The beauty of this country is that our Constitution protects our basic rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet despite our basic protected rights, there are many people who are working really hard to take away the most basic rights away from people in the minority. When Prop. 8 passed in California, same-sex couples were stripped away from the right to marry the person they love.

On April 24th, Governor Jan Brewer (R-Arizona) signed into law SB1070 which targets immigrants and anyone suspected of being an immigrant. This bill gives Arizona local police the obligation to stop anyone that they suspect for any reason – allowing profiling and making assumptions about people based on who they think they might be. Anyone who remembers the LGBT bar raids of the 1970s knows that the police harassment of the LGBT community during this era relied on the same logic. And the same people who pushed the new law in Arizona also cruelly cut partner benefits for same-sex partners of state employees.

Some people in the LGBT community believe that both of these discriminatory laws should not be compared. They don’t think it is important to protect the rights of all people, including immigrants. However, they forget that being LGBT and an immigrant is not mutually exclusive. Instead, there are many LGBT people that come to the our country seeking refuge from the hate, harassment, and violence they encounter in their countries because of who they are.

My parents love me and are fully supportive of the right for same-sex couples to marry. Because my parents know very well what it means for a narrow majority to take away the rights of a minority, they worked hard to defeat Prop 8. My mother campaigned for hours telling people why it is important to support the right for same-sex couples to marry. Similarly, I have marched alongside my mom to help raise awareness on the importance of supporting the rights and protections of immigrants.

We must all stand up against hate in our state of California and support the efforts of our friends and family elsewhere in the United States. If we want to win back the right for same-sex couples to marry, we should forge strong partnerships with similar human rights movements seeking to protect the basic rights of people. We hope you can join us in our fight to reach full equality for all Californians: www.eqca.org/volunteer.

Thank you for understanding.

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