Rally for LGBT EqualityApril 20, 2011
Last Thursday, I was one person in a crowd of over 1,000 supporters at a rally for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality at the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul. Minnesota has been somewhat supportive of LGBT rights, passing legislation that makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Like many other states, however, civil rights for the LGBT community — including marriage and parenting rights and partner benefits — are in jeopardy and consistently fall short of equality.
The overwhelming sense of community, solidarity, love, respect, and commitment to equal rights at the rally really stood out to me. The program was filled with an abundance of stories — some discussed loss or difficulties experienced, others told of great courage and determination — that spoke to the need for LGBT equality. The stories really demonstrated how the discrimination that LGBT individuals face doesn’t just affect individuals. Such inequity affects everyone, and all of us can do something to advocate for equal rights.
If you need any convincing that LGBT equality faces constant attacks, tune into any media source and you will find people who are adamantly against equal rights. Some of this, I believe, is based on fear. A prime example is the media’s reaction to the J.Crew advertisement featuring a mom painting her young son’s toenails pink. Many media figures have criticized or at least questioned the mother’s parenting skills and allude to fears that the son will grow up either confused about his gender or gay.
Another reason that people argue against equality is denial about the inequities and discrimination LGBT individuals face. That’s why efforts like the April 15 Day of Silence are so important — every year, this event raises awareness of LGBT bullying and harassment. Unfortunately, some reacted to this event with disapproval and denial.
AAUW believes that discrimination against any class of people, including the LGBT community, has no place in our country. My experience at the rally for LGBT equality and the recent string of anti-equality media have reiterated how important it is not only to believe in equal rights but also to unite with others in advocating for a better world.
This post was written by AAUW National Student Advisory Council member Kerry Diekmann.