On movement and movements

This afternoon, a federal judge in Texas ruled the ban against same-sex marriage in Texas is unconstitutional.

As someone who lived in Texas for a long time, I should be glad. As someone who has been vocal about marriage equality for more than a decade, I should be ecstatic. There is movement within gaining LGBT rights. But my views on equality are evolving.

It’s a weird thing, really. When I moved to Massachusetts, I knew I could be legally married in the eyes of the state. It was thrilling and empowering. As a gay man, I suddenly had rights that had been long denied to me.

In the last few months, state after state has decreed their same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. After all, giving civil rights and liberties should never be voted on by the masses. That’s why they’re civil rights and liberties. They’re in place to give protection to those who need it.

But with this, I find myself a bit sad. A bit overwhelmed.
Why?

Because there is more work to be done. Marriage equality is an easy thing to fight for because it’s lovely and pretty and sweet. There is more important work to be done with LGBT issues.

29 states do not have workplace protection for LGBT people.
Only 17 states offer workplace protection for gender identity.
90% of trans-people report experiencing discrimination or harassment on the job with no legal recourse.
It is illegal for same-sex couples to adopt children in 27 states.
Only two states allow for same-sex conjugal visits in prison.
29 states offer no protection from housing discrimination for LGBT people.
19% of trans-people have been denied the right to rent or own a home/apartment because of their identity.
11% of trans-people have been evicted because of their identity.

What is happening today in Arizona with SB1062 is a sign that there is much work left to be done. As written, the bill makes it legal to refuse service to members of the LGBT community.  In a way, I’m glad this bill has been brought up. It exposes the lack of rights within the LGBT community, rights that extend far beyond marriage equality.

There is much work to be done.
Texas may be the final nail in the coffin for marriage equality. When Texas goes, other states will follow. But this is the beginning. I hope others realize the fight for equality has just begun. The movement has just begun.

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On movement and movements

Leveraging your voice

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 27, 2011, I watched in horror from Boston as my former home and community in Alabama was torn asunder from a devastating string of tornadoes that cleared a path from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, winds reaching over 190 mph. As my friends picked through the rubble and helped a community rebuild, I toiled from afar, safe in my apartment in Beacon Hill. I was desperate to assist.

From home, I tweeted this: “Frustrated that I’m not in Alabama doing something. I hate this feeling.”

That’s when a friend in Birmingham called me out on Twitter – “You have over 1000 Facebook friends and 500 Twitter followers. Do something.”

It was a shock to my system. I was embarrassed to not think of this, to not use my voice to help tell a story. I was a self-professed social media fanatic. Why didn’t this dawn on me? It was the first time I was conscious of having a voice and having the ability to use it in a positive way.

Today, I was conscious of it. It started with a Facebook status.

FacebookStatus

I expected to get some likes and some comments. I thought it would stir the pot a bit and would get a rise out of some people. All in all, it was an honest statement and I was interested in seeing what came from it.

Truth? I didn’t expect what came next… I didn’t expect to hear dozens of stories from friends and family members, colleagues and students from all across the country.

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I could keep going, but you get the point.

I watched these statuses tag me over the course of the day. It was a beautiful thing to see my simple status come to life. I’m thankful to have so many thoughtful friends who tell their stories to their own friends and family.

While the visibility of the HR sign is nice and makes you feel like an ally, changing your profile picture won’t actually change anything. Taking action, writing your legislators, working in your community, telling your story is far more important than a two-click profile pic change. Take a few minutes, be intentional and actually do something.

Leveraging your voice