Sunday, July 19, 2009

Changing Hearts

At the San Diego Gay Pride Festival on Saturday July 18, 2009, which appropriately begins on Normal Street, I had the privilege of meeting a woman who found the power within to change a very important heart. Not that one heart is more important than another, of course, but someone with real power to make positive change for thousands of committed couples, including his own daughter. Marci Bair, a gay woman who has been in a committed relationship with her partner for over 25 years, is a woman whose fierce advocacy for equality allows her to put her money where her mouth is; she doesn't just play the victim game. I don't know all that she has done to make a positive difference in so many lives, but after learning about just a sampling of her efforts, I was exhausted just thinking about how much energy it takes to be that proactive. Her time is spent creating organizations, chairing committees, being on boards, all while holding down a full time job where she is also a member of the GLAM group (Gays Lesbians & Allies at MetLife.)

But out of all her successful efforts, one story moved me to tears. I'd already witnessed the outcome to this story after seeing the actual video on YouTube, but had no idea who the key players were in changing this man's heart. The Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, a Republican, had been an opponent of gay marriage and unmovable on his stance; even though he had a daughter who had come out to him as being gay and in a committed relationship. In late 2007 by a personal invitation from the mayor, Marci, along with several other advocates for equality came to his home to sit down and have a heart to heart talk about the issue since the City Council was soon to vote on the fate of equality in marriage for San Diego. Obviously the Mayor was torn over the issue since his decision had the potential to hurt is own daughter deeply.

After making her case before the Mayor, Marci and the others left not knowing whether or not their words had touched him. Marci felt they had. She truly believed that his heart had been changed. Proof that she was right soon came as a press conference was called and all major news stations across the country recorded one of the most moving moments in the history of the fight for equality among the GLBT community. This link tells the story of Marci and the meeting with the Mayor, and this link is the video that was seen around the country.

Like you said in the video, times have changed Mr Mayor, thanks to enlightened people like you. And thank you Marci, for believing enough that with truth, hearts really can be changed.

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