Local Events Planned Around the Day of Decision
The entire country’s LBGTQIIA population is waiting on baited breath for the Supreme Court to decided on both DOMA and Prop 8. Next week is the rumored “Day of Decision,” when both cases are supposed to be decided, and while neither cases will do much to directly advance same-sex marriage here in Virginia, local community leaders are organizing around the DoD announcement to let the state and its residents know it is an important time for all Americans.
When marriage equality first started getting pushed in California, Roland Winston, State Lead for Get Equal Virginia, wasn’t enthused by the idea, when larger issues like work place nondiscrimination were very real problems for many LGBT individuals. “A lot of gay men weren’t interested in getting married. It didn’t do anything to help bi folks, and it certainly did nothing for trans folks,” said Winston.
But as time passed, Winston changed his tune as he saw the strides the LGBT community made as marriage equality began to spread around the country. “I’ve seen marriage begin to pull things along. When couples begin to get married, and they’re out publicly, then their friends see them more… it’s different from employment non-discrimination in that you wouldn’t really talk about that: ‘oh now, I’m safe at work’ and such. But when people get married it begins to make evidence in their communities And stories pop up around it – like bakeries that wont bake for them, or the big gay wedding at the hotel down town… it radiates from marriages.”
Winston has been working hard to develop two local events associated with the DoD. The first is a press conference scheduled for shortly after the decision is released, and the second is a public gathering in the evening to show the number of folks who care about the issue, and give locals, gay, straight and otherwise, the chance to show their support. “Here in VA, its important to point out that it helps us here with awareness,” said Winston. “Even if we can’t get there with the legislature.”
Of the two cases, the DOMA’s challenge will offer a more unique change in the way LGBT folks interact with the federal government in their relationships. Winston compared it to state issued drivers licenses: “Imagine if your drivers licenses wasn’t any good when you crossed the state line, now imagine your marriage was invalid if you crossed the state line.”
Rev. Robin Gorsline, President and CEO of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, has been the co-organizer behind the DoD events with Winston. “It’s going to be very significant, no matter what they say.” said Gorsline.
While he’s trying to stay optimistic, Gorsline admits there will probably be a mixed set of emotions after the decisions are released. “Maybe we’ll cheer, maybe we’ll cheer and boo, or cry, whatever it is.” Gorsline and Winston plan on inviting interested poeple out to Carytown’s New York Deli the evening of the DoD to show the sheer number of people concerned with the issue and give the community a chance to rally in one place.
It’s this interaction by LGBT people, and the allies who care, that Gorsline thinks will make the biggest impact, even before the DoD announcement. “If we don’t talk, then people think its only the courts that are playing a role in this, and frankly the last word belongs to the people, not the court.”
No matter the outcome, Virginia’s right to same-sex marriage wont be easily achieved, but Gorsline thinks all this conversation around the DoD will help spark the fires of change. “People have been saying nothing’s gonna happen for same-sex marriage here in VA until the Supreme Court says so, but I disagree… Its only the next step in a longer campaign to make sure we have not only marriage, but all forms of equality.”
The press conference is loosely scheduled for shortly after the DoD announcement is made, and it will take place at the John Marshall Courts Building 400 N 9st. GayRVA will be on the scene for both events, and we’ll be sure to let you all know details as they emerge.
That evening, Richmond’s LGBTQIIA population are all invited to Carytown to show their support.
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