The following statement was issued by OCA Executive Director Tom Hayashi on May 9.
OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), recognizes the importance of marriage among other rights as fundamental to the American ethos. Historically, this basic human right has been denied to APAs parallel to anti-miscegenation laws, which criminalized interracial marriage as APA LGBTs face similar unfair treatment today.
Yesterday, North Carolina Amendment 1, which sought to define marriage solely between a man and a woman, passed with a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent, making North Carolina the 31st state that defines marriage as a heterosexual partnership through a constitutional amendment.
“North Carolina’s vote against marriage equality is a clear case of discrimination in our community. No one’s rights should be put up to a public referendum,” says Ben de Guzman, co-director of programs of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), a close ally of OCA. “We are proud of the AAPI community that stepped forward in the campaign against Amendment 1 in North Carolina.”
As our organization reaffirms its commitment to a national resolution passed in 1994 denouncing discriminatory policies and practices based on sexual orientation, we reiterate the need for legal recognition for individuals in marriage and other committed familial relationships without limitation based upon race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, framed within a national resolution passed in 2007.
Within the APA community, there are many same-sex relationships that continue to contribute to society with the same commitment as heterosexual couples. For decades, the LGBT community has faced blatant discrimination and legal limitations in such areas as employment, property rights, and privilege related to immigration status of loved ones.
According to UCLA’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy (2006), almost 40,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are in same-sex relationships. A lack of legal protections excludes APA LGBT individuals from 1,100 federal rights that come with marriage. Moreover, with full inclusion of LGBT women and men serving in our military with pride and dignity, it is truly a shame that this country, which they are defending, is not able to extend the same rights and privileges that their heterosexual counterparts are able to enjoy.
With the results of North Carolina withstanding, we are nevertheless encouraged by the most recent statement offered by President Obama as part of an interview with ABC News today where he aptly emphasizes that “it is important… that… same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Additionally, in 2011, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview along with his wife on the ABC talk show “The View,” stated, “I think freedom means freedom for everybody,” adding, “And you ought to have the right to make whatever choice you want to make with respect to your own personal situation…I certainly don’t have any problem with it.”
These firm endorsements by opinion leaders of both parties not only align with the civil rights initiative that OCA has been defending for decades but what is simply just. Let us continue to embrace the hopes and aspirations of APA LGBT rights along with all of our policy priorities.