Love: It’s such a simple, amazing, and miraculous thing. We love love. And we love to celebrate it too, especially on an occasion like this. Yes, hard as it is to believe, a whole year has gone by since the Supreme Court did the right thing and finally made marriage equality the law of the land.
As time goes on, it’ll no doubt seem even more ridiculous that it took this country and others so long to come around to the idea that two people who love each other should be able to get married, regardless of their gender.
And Yet There Is Still So Much Discrimination
But do you know what seems ridiculous right now? That the LGBT community still faces discrimination (in the workplace, in the housing market, at banks, in hospitals, in public places—and sadly the list goes on…) in the US and around the world. That acts of violence—from schoolyard beatings to massacres like Orlando—continue to be committed against the LGBT community every single day.
So we should celebrate marriage equality. But we can never lose sight of how much work remains to be done. Here are seven ways you can help support the LGBT community on this special day… and every other day.
1. Support the Equality Act to Make Discrimination Illegal.
Can you believe it’s still legal to discriminate against a person for their sexual orientation or gender identity in more than half of US states? This can make getting a job, securing housing, finding insurance, and other necessary aspects of life immensely harder for LGBT individuals. The Equality Act would fix that by making such discrimination illegal everywhere, as it should be. Ben & Jerry’s, and a bunch of other major companies, including Facebook, American Airlines, and Google, support the Equality Act. 78% of voters support these protections too. Add your name to the list of Americans calling on Congress to support passing the Equality Act.
2. Put an End to Bullying.
Bullying, of course, can be experienced by anyone, but if you’re an LGBT teen or youth, the statistics get really scary: LGBT youth and teens are twice as likely to experiment with alcohol and drugs and four times more likely to attempt suicide. It should shock and shame all of us that many states and a majority of school districts still have no laws or policies protecting LGBT students. Find out what you can do to help. No one should feel unsafe because their sexual orientation.
3. Stop Anti-LGBT Legislation.
Opposition to LGBT equality remains high in many state legislatures. In 2015, state legislatures introduced over 115 anti-LGBT bills—many with the aim of allowing businesses and agencies to deny services to LGBT individuals on the basis of religion. The rash of recent laws intended to bar transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice is just another example of what we’re up against. Check out the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to view resources on state-by-state protections against discrimination, support the Equality Act, and find out how you can get involved in your own state.
4. Shop at Businesses that Support LGBT Equality.
You can put your dollars where your values are every day. The original HRC Buyer’s Guide was released more than ten years ago with the aim of making it easier to support businesses that have inclusive policies toward their LGBT employees. Take a look at the 2016 Buyer’s Guide and voice your support for LGBT equality with every purchase you make.
5. Pick up the Phone and get Sentimental.
Call a friend, a family member, or a loved one and tell them how much they matter to you. Marriage equality, and the broader issue of LGBT rights, is about everyone’s right to freely and openly and fearlessly express what’s in their heart. So go ahead, get sentimental—tell those you care about that you love them for exactly who they are.
6. Contact your Congressperson and Share Your Thoughts.
Believe it or not, when you call or write your representatives, it really makes a difference. Thank them if they support LGBT rights; challenge them if they don’t. But either way, remind them that there’s a lot of work left to be done.
7. Give a Little. Or A Lot.
Make a donation to your favorite LGBT-rights nonprofit in honor of marriage equality. There are great organizations all over the country that need your help so that they can keep helping others.