Tiny Protests: Living Pride Every Day

  By Ryan Wesley Brown

Planning a wedding is stressful, especially in our semi-post-COVID world, where the specter of another surge of illness still looms over any large event. But a new anxiety now hangs over my own wedding planning: legal impossibility. The Supreme Court majority is methodically laying the groundwork to unravel decades of hard-won civil rights battles, stare decisis be damned.

Public opinion on LGBTQ rights has shifted during recent years. For example, a 2021 Gallup Poll shows that 70% of Americans believe that same-sex couples should be entitled to legally protected marriage rights. National brands, including retailers, banks, and tech companies, have embraced Pride month as part of the annual cycle of holidays and marketing campaigns. Slotting neatly between the tent pole summer holidays of Memorial Day and Independence Day, one might be tempted to believe that queer America has achieved some sort of immutable victory in the fight for equality.

And yet, despite all of this progress, not to mention years of legal battles—Obergefell, Windsor, Lawrence, Romer—full equality remains elusive. Further, Justice Alito’s recently leaked draft Dobbs opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade swipes at some of these cases, igniting fears that existing LGBTQ rights may be in the Court’s crosshairs.

Marriage equality is not the beginning and end of LGBTQ rights. Even with the protections afforded by these cases, LGBTQ people still face discrimination at the state and federal level. For example, Pennsylvania still allows for the use of a gay or trans panic defense in criminal cases. Gay men are still effectively prohibited from donating blood by the federal government, even now during a national blood shortage. The sickening “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida effectively erases LGBTQ people from classroom settings, a move which will likely only further isolate LGBTQ children who face higher rates of suicide than their peers.

In the face of it all, wedding planning anxiety can seem almost trivial. But Pride—the movement, not the corporate holiday—was built on acts of defiance. When we think about the movement, we often think of big acts of defiance, like the Stonewall Riots, Harvey Milk’s election, AIDS advocacy, and Supreme Court cases. But the big acts are the consequence of many, many small acts of defiance. Thousands of individual moments of personal bravery. Acts like coming out at work, sharing your preferred pronouns, making a donation, and yes, even planning a wedding.

I want to wish everyone a happy—and maybe a little defiant—Pride Month.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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