This is one of those times where I’ve deleted more words than I’ll print, letting myself vent and then release them into the aether.
I’m exceptionally happy that the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 majority, ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional because they represent a violation of the notion of equal protection under the law. We’ve had same-sex marriage in Massachusetts for years now, and I can tell you that there’s been no erosion of “traditional” marriage. If anything, it’s made differently-gendered marriages even more valid, because it wasn’t then some kind of exclusive, members-only deal. Everyone has an equal opportunity to get in on it.
There’s a simple solution for those who can’t ever imagine marrying someone of the same gender: don’t do it. Enjoining others from the equality afforded under the Constitution…well, that’s just not acceptable and, frankly, it’s un-American. Separate and unequal under the guise of nebulous “religious rights” is counter to the First Amendment’s requirement that “no establishment of religion” should be made. [Furthermore, recent polls from Gallup and the Pew Research Center confirm that a majority of Americans are pro-same-sex marriage.]
I was happy to see that my Facebook friends were rainbow’ing-up their profile pics in droves, covering my Facebook feed like a cacophonous Freedom Flag photo collage. These were people who, in some cases, have expressed varying levels of positive support for the notion of “marriage equality”–that same-sex couples are no less deserving of wedded bliss than those of different genders.
As the weekend drew to a close, and everyone’s rainbow-drunk started to wear off somewhat now that the novelty of the ruling had faded, I started to see some people change their profile picture back to its original form. And this is what worries me about transient activism.
It’s one thing to say that you support same-sex marriage, and it’s another thing to actually DO something about equality. Lighting up your Facebook feed is useless if it isn’t accompanied by then providing support to LGBTQQ people beyond social media alone.
Here’s a quick list of ways to take the support over the rainbow:
- Purchase goods and services from companies that make it clear they support LGBTQQ people. Whether it’s that they changed their Facebook page logo to incorporate a rainbow or that they got a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index: vote with your dollars and your feet.
- By the same token, STOP purchasing goods and services from companies that make it clear LGBTQQ people aren’t welcome. As one interviewee on NPR yesterday said, “Why would you want to go where you’re not wanted”? Shut them down by simply not going there. Marginalize those whose idea of “equality” shuns inclusiveness.
- Don’t vacation in/visit/do business with states that don’t value their LGBTQQ residents. Planning a trip to Louisiana? LA Governor and presidential candidate Bobby Jindal is trying to find a way to allow clerks, judges, and justices of the peace to opt-out of their governmental duties under “religious objections”, saying that they can’t be forced to issue licenses for or officiate same-sex weddings. That’s a prime example of a reason to pick just about anywhere else to visit.
- And, most importantly, provide offline support to LGBTQQ people–whether by providing a safe space to friends, family members or co-workers, or by donating time or money to an organization that supports LGBTQQ people (like Youth Pride), find a way to be a person who helps others. Be inclusive. Be supportive.
We have an opportunity here, to broadly embrace marriage equality as a sign of the full human worth of LGBTQQ individuals, and it’s going to take more than a coat of rainbow-washing on profile pics. I hope we can go beyond that, and truly make equality and inclusiveness a priority for our society: for race, for gender, for sexual orientation, and for gender identity. No one should be left behind. And we need to move forward. Together.