Recently I've been reminded just how far we have yet to go with regard to Equality for the LGBT community in America. There have been recent news stories, for instance, reporting heartbreaking circumstances for couples in medical situations in which one partner is not permitted to make decisions for another... And of course there's been the issues with Chick-Fil-A... And yet other news stories of gay and lesbian couples continuing to encounter blatant discrimination when meeting with wedding professionals, to the point of having to drastically alter their ceremony plans because suddenly they are informed that a particular vendor will no longer work with them, because there has just been a realization that there are 2 grooms or 2 brides.
It's true - this is unsettling. It's blatantly wrong that such intolerance continues in our country. I was speaking to a friend recently (a straight-but-not-narrow friend) who told me that he can no longer sit silent on the sidelines: he finds it appalling that political candidates can actually run on a platform that spotlights their record of discrimination... And so he is now finding ways to donate more and speak out more, because this ongoing injustice is simply unacceptable. Good for him.
What about the rest of us?? How can we boost our Action Steps?
As my partner and I have said, as witnesses to much that's gone on these past 12 years concerning the issues of marriage rights... Our community must become more cohesive. We must claim our own rights. We (and this includes our hetero- allies) must identify ourselves as a legitimate AMERICAN MINORITY and take responsibility for our own cause.
Is boycotting Chick-Fil-A productive? Sure, it allows us to vent, to gather in solidarity, to take the issue to the streets in a grassroots way that certainly helps to get our message out. What's next?
Here are some ideas:
*It's an election year. Educate yourself about the candidates, volunteer if you can for the candidates you feel most strongly about. And help to get out the vote. Many citizens may boycott the vote because they don't feel it truly makes a difference - help them understand how important one more voter really can be.
*Volunteer or donate to your local marriage rights groups, youth advocacy or LGBT community center. They are doing important work right now too, during the election cycle. They need time, money and support.
*Yes, if you are in a relationship, be sure to have your legal documents in order, including medical power of attorney. Keep this documentation on file with your primary care doctor, and a copy with your lawyer. Keep a copy in your glove compartment; keep vital phone numbers in your cell phone or in your wallet. And remember this may not protect you, so keep dialoguing with your lawyer about other protections that may be available.
*Attend one of our Gay & Lesbian Wedding Expos. We've been on tour throughout the nation for nine years, visited twenty different states and produced over 70 of these important and historic events. There are many more scheduled for the upcoming months, and app. 20 planned for 2013. While they are a fun & beautiful way for couples to plan their ceremonies... these Expos also provide a strong degree of legitimization for our minority. Imagine if each show attracted 1000 attendees - we'd have more media attention. More media attention = more face time in front of the general public, which obviously translates to a continued shift in acceptance. It's that easy.
We've witnessed great strides in the past 12 years. But there is more work to do. Let's make it happen! Equality is always the right choice, so we will prevail.
-Marianne Puechl, cofounder