CBS News asked noted figures in the arts, business and politics about their experience in today's civil rights movement, or about figures who inspired them in their activism.
Chris Kluwe, former NFL player who spoke out in support of same-sex marriage advocates
Is there something that you'd like to share about your personal connection to civil rights issues?
We've made great strides in the area of same-sex rights over the past 40 years. As a country, we've gone from Stonewall to Michael Sam [the first publicly gay college football player to be drafted by the NFL], from the AIDS crisis to "Modern Family," from intolerance to normality for hundreds of thousands of American citizens.
However, there's still more to be done.
We need to understand that, just like any other civil rights issue, the fight to ensure equal protection for everyone under the law is a fight that never ends. The battles may become smaller, sparser, less protracted, but if we sit back and let ourselves bask in our accomplishments, then we offer an opportunity to those who would take those rights away.
In the next 50 years, we as Americans need to continue fighting for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people to be treated the same as everyone else, because they are American citizens who pay their taxes, and serve in our military defending our freedoms, and they deserve nothing less. We need to make sure hate crimes are treated and reported as such, and dealt with appropriately. We need to pass legislation like ENDA, which would ensure federal protections for LBGT individuals in the workplace, so someone can't be fired simply for the crime of being gay. Yes, that's an actual thing that happens in 28 states of our union.
Above all, in the next 50 years and beyond, we need to continue treating each other as human beings -- not as slogans, not as labels, not as acronyms or ad campaigns, but as people with lives and hopes and dreams, no matter what race or religion or sexuality you happen to be. If we can do that, then we'll have a chance at equality. It'll always be a struggle, though.
For more info:
- Follow Chris Kluwe on Twitter (@ChrisWarcraft) and Facebook
- "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities" by Chris Kluwe (Little, Brown); Also available in eBook format