Kim Painter serves as recorder in Johnson County, Iowa. In 1998, she became the first openly gay first-time candidate elected to office in Iowa. This year she was named a Harvey Milk Champion of Change by President Obama. These are her remarks at the rally in Iowa City yesterday following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision declaring DOMA unconstitutional.
History – we have been surrounded by it all week. And today, the historical moment we have long awaited came. By a 5-4 vote, we have a new standing in the judicial concept of our Constitution for our lawful marriages. The ruling said:
“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”
We have never before been gifted with that type of wording from the nation’s high court. We have equal liberty – under an amendment of the US Constitution.
So tonight, we can enjoy a victory that was decades coming. We should be happy, and celebrate being named as full legal participants in the life of our nation. But as we celebrate, we must remember we got here with the help of others. We got here with friends, and family, and others who struggle still for recognition and equality under the law.
Tonight, as we express our joy in today’s victory, we tell them: We are here beside you, and we will not go away. You will not fight this fight alone, and we will do whatever we can to help you prevail and assume your birthright as Americans. The right to vote, the right to address grievances fully and fairly in the workplace, the right to marry the people we love and have fully protected families and belongings under the laws of this great land.
I said it last night, and I say again today: “America can be a rough place, and an aggravating place. But there is no place like it. It may humble you, it may trample you, but if you persevere in spite of the bad times, it will not deny you forever, and one day…it will lift you up.” Today we have been lifted up, and tonight we hold out our arms to grab onto and lift up others. Enjoy this night, and have a wonderful celebration.