why marriage matters panelists

Standing, from left: Terrie Ashby-Scott (moderator), Ramon Alvarez, Farand Gunnels, Marvo Reguindin, Sandy Williams, Renika Williams. Seated, from left: Rev. Happy Watkins, Lucy Vazquez, OJ Coates

by Lucy Vazquez

As the November election approaches and ballots are being filled out, it’s important to bring up conversations about LGBT communities’ rights and that no one should face discrimination when they hope to marry the person they love.

PJALS teamed up with Why Marriage Matters Washington to organize an event that focused on engaging in the conversation among communities of color about the freedom to marry. The East Central Community Center was filled with love, laughter, tears, and reflection as it became a safe space for a dialogue with great leaders of our communities who shared their personal stories as gay, lesbian, and two spirit people as well as allies showing their support to all loving couples.

This event was so powerful it touched my heart and made me reflect on my life; I didn’t realized how much I could relate to their stories. The stories brought tears to my eyes because all I could think about was the ignorance that surrounds our community regarding marriage equality. Everyone should have the right to love and marry whoever they wish to.

I was speaking as an ally to the LGBT community and why marriage matters to me. But as I was about to approach the microphone I started to feel my stomach turning, my hands shaking, and the constant fear that nothing would come out of my month. At that moment, I glanced over to the panelists and envisioned my sister sitting in one of those chairs and it hit me, marriage matters to me because I want my sister to be able to marry the person she loves. I knew at the moment that I needed to be her voice.

Reverend Happy Watkins ended the panelists’ speeches with words of encouragement and words of love that I believed touched the hearts of everyone in the room. The event then proceeded to comments and questions from the audience. It was so inspiring to see the amount of love and support the audience showed towards the freedom to marry, something that I will never forget.