A post-marriage primer for ally activism

A post-marriage primer for ally activism

JamieHymanHeadshottCongratulations, allies!

Marriage equality is the law of the land, 26 million of us turned our profile pics into a pretty rainbow, we wished a hearty “Mazel Tov!” to our flurry of newly-engaged gay pals, and our work here is done, right?


LGBTs still face a number of battles in their quest for comprehensive equality. Here is a quick primer outlining the next hot issues that you may find useful when determining where next to throw your support as an ally.

Marriage backlash

This is already in full swing. Clerks of court are illegally refusing to issue marriage licenses. Elected leaders are encouraging their constituents to disobey the Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality. Even here in Florida, where same-sex marriage has been legal since January, the state is dragging its feet on simply updating marriage license applications to “spouse” and “spouse” rather than “husband” and “wife.”

LGBTs will need allies help to make enough noise to ensure the law is obeyed.

Birth certificates

There is a whole host of issues that same-sex parents face, from fair hospital procedures to complications from adoptions when not all channels recognize that gay parents are good parents. The most immediate of these issues will be birth certificate language – LGBTs are fighting to ensure both parents can be listed on their child’s birth certificate, even when those parents don’t fall into the hetero categories of “mother” and “father.”

Religious freedom

Ah, this is a sneaky one. Technically a form of marriage backlash, these bills are popping up all over the country and there’s one in the works for Florida. The legislation purportedly protects religious leaders whose beliefs do not fall in line with marriage equality from being forced to perform same-sex marriage. It’s just another form of bigotry disguised as a viable bill, however – religious leaders are already protected from having to perform any type of marriage ceremony they want, and they frequently decline to marry couples who aren’t the right religion or who haven’t jumped through the right hoops and yes, gay couples, too. No one is trying to force them to do otherwise, and allies should take a strong stand against these bills as a waste of time, money and resources.

Workplace equality

A comprehensive workforce protections bill has been proposed and failed in the Florida Legislature at least a half dozen times. Right now, LGBTs can be fired from any job, at any time, simply because of who they love. Employments protection is an area ripe for ally activism, and it’s likely a workforce bill will pop up again during the next legislative session. Support it!

LGBT youth homelessness

Despite growing acceptance among the larger population, many LGBT youth find heartbreaking isolation within their own families once they come out. Whether they’re kicked out of their home or find themselves in a family situation that is so unsupportive that it’s unbearable, 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, according to a Williams Institute Survey. That doesn’t even account for the large numbers of LGBT youth at risk of becoming homeless at any time. This is a population that is in critical need of allied support.

LGBT youth bullying and suicide

Like homelessness, LGBT youth face a disproportionate risk of being bullied or committing suicide. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers, according to the Trevor Project. Allies can fight this by participating as leaders in groups designed to fight bullying and support LGBT victims, such as Gay-Straight Alliances or a suicide hotline.

Transgender issues

This is also shorthand for a whole host of discriminatory problems faced by transgender people. They range from the deadly – as of press time, at least nine transgender women have been murdered in the U.S. as of 2015, according to the Human Rights Campaign – to the daily – communicating with friends, family and coworkers who might be simply confused about what pronouns are appropriate to use. While transitioning and beyond, transgender people have challenges when it comes to healthcare, insurance, employment and housing. Allies can educate themselves and help.

This list is by no means comprehensive; it’s simply an overview of options where allies might like to next direct their energies when fighting for LGBT equality. Another great way to find out what is needed in your community is to simply talk to your LGBT friends – what are they concerned about? Where are they facing discrimination? What battles are they fighting now?

Pick your cause and get started! We’ve celebrated marriage equality. Now it’s time to go beyond the rainbow profile pic and lend our allied voices and action to all the other discriminatory issues faced by our LGBT friends.


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