As the Supreme Court deliberates and millions of people show support for marriage equality, what more can we do beyond the red equal sign avatar?
I was genuinely shocked when I logged onto Facebook late Tuesday morning and saw a sea of red — dozens and dozens of friends had replaced their profile photos with equal signs to show their support of same-sex marriage.
I was also genuinely moved. I not only felt accepted, but advocated for. And I felt a sense of community I’d never experienced on Facebook before. And it wasn’t just my LGBT friends — but a number of my heterosexual friends. It was having so many of them mixed in that made it feel more real, like more of a change had taken place.
As the day progressed, the numbers of red avatars grew. People (yours truly included) started creating their own versions, which ranged from the politically clever to the absurdly silly. Several friends who’d made it to the rallies started posting photos of the crowds. Various news sites and blogs started uploading recordings from the hearings. And by the second day of hearings, there were already stories about the profile photo phenomenon happening on Facebook. All told, nearly 3 million people changed their profile pics to some variation of the red and pink equal sign.
I want to acknowledge all those straight friends in particular: I felt and appreciated the love. It didn’t just make me feel equal, it made me feel like I was being carried around on your shoulders at the end of Rudy.
Now before I get too sappy (too late?), I need to answer the question posed in the title.
What are we really fighting for?
While the show of virtual support was wonderful, and indicates in a small way how things have shifted, that’s not enough in itself. And the court battles are not just so we can get married. Gays have been creating their own weddings (commitment ceremonies, civil unions, beach parties) for decades. The same goes for building our own families, whether it’s through biology, adoption, surrogacy or circumstance. We’ve also learned ways to circumvent the walls blocking us from healthcare benefits, visitation rights, inheritance issues and parenting restrictions, so that we can protect these self-made families the best we can. We’re an industrious bunch.
But being a family is hard, regardless of who has what parts. And legal marriage makes all the stuff I’ve described — both the personal stories and the general issues — a little bit easier to manage. So to answer my question: We’re fighting for all of it. For marriage, for equality, for our families, for our lives.
What are some of your ideas for supporting marriage equality? Please comment below.
—photo by Bill Ward’s Brickpile/Flickr