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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Looking back, looking forward
Op-Ed
by Marianne Williamson, exclusive to Windy City Times
2019-06-26

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As we look forward to the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and celebrate PRIDE month, I think about progress made—but also about work to be done.

Our Declaration of Independence holds that the inalienable rights of, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" are endowed to ALL humans by their creator at birth. Marriage equality became the law of the land, yet there is still no federal law explicitly protecting LGBTQ communities from discrimination. These communities, therefore, do not enjoy the full breadth of freedoms that this country espouses to guarantee to each and every citizen.

This is not only unacceptable; this is in direct violation of our founding principles.

People have long fought to rid our country of the "except for's"—"except for Blacks," "except for women" and so forth. Today, we are challenged by the ongoing prejudice that seeks to repudiate the fundamental American dedication to freedom and equality for all. The idea that there should be God-given life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, "except for them," is a stain on our national character.

Rights are rights. I have been working for fundamental rights for LGBTQ communities since the 1980s and, as president, I will continue that work.

I have been an HIV- and LGBTQ-rights activist since the 1980s, when I founded Project Angel Food, which has now served more than 11 million meals. When I began speaking in 1983, I was at a place called the Philosophical Research Society in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Not long after I began speaking, the AIDS crisis burst onto the scene. Organized religious institutions were profoundly silent for quite a while. Los Angeles was so hard hit by AIDS and there was a young woman, myself, who talked about a God who loved us no matter what, and who works miracles. So, people affected by the virus, particularly gay men, began flocking to my lectures. And that was simply the river that flowed to my door.

The suffering, death and illness around me gave me the idea of starting a nonprofit organization to provide non-medical support services to people with life-challenging illnesses. When I first did it, I wasn't even thinking about AIDS specifically. But, at our first fundraiser, when I saw who showed up, who gave the party, who did the work, I looked around and I thought, Oh my god. This is the AIDS community. I knew that Project Angel Food was theirs.

At that time, for some of those young men, telling their parents they were gay was as traumatic as telling their parents they were dying. So it was like being in a war zone, and all we had was love for each other. It was a very profound experience. I was marked forever by that experience.

The love I felt from those days propels me now to continue working for full rights and fair treatment for all as I run to be your president.

Love,

Marianne

Marianne Williamson is a best-selling author, lecturer, non-profit activist and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.


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