Archive for January, 2012

Marriage Equality

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Recently I attended a conference on Marriage Equality sponsored by the Lambda Legal Defense Fund. My expectations were low. I thought I was going to attend an event built around someone else’s agenda but I was pleasantly surprised how it made a difference to me on a personal level. I encountered a conference that was in fact very relevant to people of color; one that was more personal than political.

It was no accident that the event was planned around MLK Day, held at the Paul Robeson Center of Rutgers University, Newark Campus and led primarily by woman of color. It worked for me but it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was attended by a dvierse group of attendees: young, old, couples, men, women and people of all colors in the city of Newark. I wonder what Dr. King would say about this?

It started out on the right track. The political aspect of the conference hit home because of the emphasis on the personal. There was a black lesbian couple that spoke about the discrimination they faced at the hospital, despite having a civil union that is supposed to be equal to marriage. The fact is society places a high value in marriage. If you say that you have a partner and are in a civil union, someone just might ask you what type of business that is. Legally, GLBT people have to take triple if not quadruple measures to back things up or face legal hurdles.

There was an Ice Breaker that was designed to get people to connect with unfamiliar faces and it worked. It got people talking right away. People who had legal terms had to match themselves with those in the room that had their definitions. It was a great way to segway into the legal discussion. There were also workshops on Personal Finance designed for different levels of experience.

Aside from learning how much money some people actually spend on weddings, the real power of the conference was the sharing of information and strategies by the participants. People were very forthcoming about sharing what worked and what didn’t.

We were entertained by the singing talents of Cheryl and Javonne, two wonderful performers whom I’ve known for years. They treated us to two original songs and really got the crowd going.

For anyone opposed to marriage equality, I challenge them to get beyond the politics and talk to GLBT families in their communities and in their own families. It’s not about someone else’s agenda or about desconstructing an age old institution. It’s about taking care of each of other.