When SCOTUS overturned Roe v Wade, the LGBTQ+ community and our broad circle of allies became well aware that the overturn of Obergefell was likely. And if not the overturn, outright, then the undermining of its intended scope.
Now, as of the Fall of 2023, we are beginning to hear news about the bubbling of several lawsuits in the lower courts aimed at becoming the vehicle to do just that: reach SCOTUS and provide the means for the Supreme Court justices to lean in to a ruling that undermines national marriage equality for same-gender couples.
That is playing out in real time, in states like Texas... and all across America.
And of course, these are not the only headlines that are disturbing. Whether regarding LGBTQ+ rights, or an array of other important issues, scrolling through daily news features can be in itself an act of sincere courage: it's easy to lose heart when witnessing the seemingly endless barrage of efforts to stoke divisiveness, propel false claims for political gain, spew rhetoric, promote violence.
So... how can we, as average citizens, take real action?? In what ways can we truly empower ourselves?
*Remember how far LGBTQ+ equality has progressed: Recalling important milestones like the Goodridge Decision (Massachusetts, 2004) reminds us that the journey toward marriage equality, and broader rights for our community, is not an easy road... nor one unmarked by detours, fits and starts. It's natural for important issues to take time to come in to the realm of mainstream. Taking a moment to review the history and lean on those accomplishments can be uplifting: and staying enthused and motivated is vital to pursuing further traction.
*"Look for the Helpers..." Act on the wisdom of influencers like Mr. Rogers! ...It's truly empowering to witness others as they take action toward making the world a better place. Seek out helpers in all circles, from FreeMomHugs.org, to your local elected official who is standing up for LGBTQ+ rights. Notice who they are and what they do, and allow their energy to fuel your own.
*Reach out to Your Community - It's not a time for complacency. Dig deep and find ways to research online or even take time to visit in person with local LGBTQ+ community groups. Political advocacy organizations, local community centers, LGBTQ+ youth alliances, even social groups such as the local 'Drag Bingo Night' or Gay Men's Chorus need your support! Whether it's a monetary donation, a gift of your time (perhaps you can help out with social media posts or designing graphics), volunteering in person at an upcoming event, or participating yourself in group activities: they all make a difference!
*Research & Invest - At our ongoing tour of LGBTQ+ Wedding Expos, we remind couples that there are many, many roles in progressing the issue of Equality. And one that they can easily take on is that of investing their wedding budget with vendors who actively support a policy of non-discrimination. By hiring exhibitors at our expos, they can rest assured they are supporting business professionals who support our community. Win-Win! This of course can be extrapolated: invest your money, beyond the wedding & honeymoon, with businesses you are sure are supportive of equality. Research phone companies, utiltity companies, clothing and merchandise vendors, restaurants, etc. The more cash we spend with businesses that actively promote non-discrimination, the further our efforts toward lasting Equal Rights for our minority... and others!
*Vote, Participate - Our rights are at stake in every election, whether local, state or federal. Not everyone can run for office, or attend each and every local planning, zoning or school board meeting... but all of that matters. Voting of course matters too. Even in elections that seem less than vital, do your best to research candidates thoroughly, as well as ballot initiatives and other issues, and vote with the mindset that you are in fact actively wielding the power of information and intention. Prior to election day, do your best also to have conversations with your neighbors, colleagues, friends and family about their plans for voting. Offer to carpool if necessary, or to help fill out the form necessary to secure an absentee ballot for someone in your circle who needs it.
*Out & Proud - Don't minimize the fact that just by living your life, and being who you are, you are making a difference in the world. As we tell our couples, planning the wedding of your dreams, in which you marry the love of your life... for LGBTQ+ partners this in and of itself is a moment of activism. It may not make front-page news, but it does help others' perceptions evolve, transform and grow toward a broader acceptance of diversity. Never underestimate that power you carry, simply by being who you are.
*Further Ways to Make Your Wedding Count - Read more from one of RWN's founders about ways to incorporate a sense of activism in your own Wedding Plans
In just 12 short months, our citizens will vote for our next president. In the meantime, there is still much important work to be done. THANK YOU for doing your part: It matters. And efforts both large and small WILL make an impact.