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Not Equal Enough


Today’s post is from APW sponsor Amanda Summerlin, out of Atlanta. It speaks for itself and says everything I want to say about why we’re throwing Yay New York next week (more details on that this afternoon).

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“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” —Theodore Roosevelt

On Sunday morning, I had the incredible pleasure of meeting LGBT Subject 1 and LGBT Subject 2 at an undisclosed location to make their engagement photos. We had an incredible time, but I can’t tell you about it. I took amazing photos in an exciting environment with people who were deeply in love and fun and spontaneous, but I can’t show them to you. If I did, they could lose their jobs.

Not Equal Enough | A Practical WeddingThis is a photo of them holding hands in front of a great grungy old building as the first rays of sunlight warm the surface of the old bricks. But you don’t get to see it, because it could ruin their careers.

Not Equal Enough | A Practical Wedding
Here is a photo of them doing the hipster hand hold… you know the pose. But I can’t show it to you because the laws in most states don’t protect LGBT people from being fired because they aren’t straight.
Not Equal Enough | A Practical Wedding
Here’s an amazing shot of them looking directly at the camera with their cheeks pressed together. They both have gorgeous eyes, full of kindness and warmth. But I can’t show you, because our country doesn’t believe that they are equal enough.
Not Equal Enough | A Practical Wedding

This photo is of them laughing hard at something LGBT Subject 1 said. Their faces shine with joy and happiness. This photo makes me smile and giggle every time I look at it. But if I showed you this photo, it might make you think that they are like you, and not a threat to the moral fabric of the heartland… or whatever the argument of the moment is.

If you’re thinking that I’m making this up, let me assure you that I am not. Every photo that I describe here really exists and was made on a recent Sunday in a location that I will not tell you, of a real couple whose names that I can not share with you. The truth is that it makes me sick that people have to live in fear in our country. This couple shares a home, pays their bills, pays their taxes, and works hard. Just like you. Every day they live with the knowledge that no matter how hard they work, how many performance evaluations they ace, how many promotions they receive, or how “good” they are, simply loving each other is enough for their employers to instantly fire them.

Maybe you think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. It happens every day. In AMERICA. The same America that claims to provide equal opportunity to every citizen. America, home of the free (if you’re straight). America, land of opportunity (if you’re straight). If you’re straight, be thankful that you have so much freedom. If you’re reading this, remember the people who would deny freedoms from one group of citizens could also do the same to another group of citizens. The next group could be yours.

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  • http://www.4realequalityweddings.com emily

    i can’t tell you how much this post spoke to me. it gets me right there, in that spot that makes you feel sad and anxious that this kind of inequality exists. and it makes me feel so very lucky i am free to live the life that i live. but i thank this photographer for writing that post. and thank you for sharing this post. i can only hope that that someone who really should read that post may come across it and have it affect them. i am going to post a link to this post on my blog and i hope that others do the same. i hope that this is shared with as many people as possible. and i wish this couple all the love and happiness and excitement that ANY engaged couple deserves.

    • http://www.thefamiliarwilderness.com Erin

      Yep, that sad, anxious, infuriated spot. I’m glad Amanda was able to give them the photos she describes, but heartbroken that the couple won’t be able to spread them around all creation in the grand gestures of love a lot of people take for granted… Yay New York indeed.

  • http://thehoneymoonproject.com Emma

    This is a heartbreaking, amazing post. I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it’s still possible to fire someone for being homosexual in modern day America – that’s really, really shocking. No one should have to hide their sexuality, or hide who they love and live with.

    • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

      It seems like it shouldn’t be possible, doesn’t it? We also live in a state without LGBT discrimination protection, and my wife was fired last year after her employers found out she had a fiancee and not a fiance.

      It both boggles my mind and infuriates me. And I know that it could happen again, and again, and we can only hope that it will not.

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  • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com jehara

    This post gave me chills. Very powerful. The last few lines reminded me of this statement by Martin Niemoller:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    • Class of 1980

      I instantly thought of the same statement. The danger is absolutely real in some places.

  • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

    One of my best friends in the world recently came out to me and my husband, and every time the subject of coming out publicly comes up in conversation, he has the same argument. “I work with *kids*, Maddie” he says. Like that should make any difference.

    But it does.

    Just last night I was thinking about Yay! NY and I thought to myself, “I can’t believe we are having civil rights protests in 2011. I can’t believe that we STILL have people in our country who would deny our citizens (our f*cking friends) civil f*cking rights.” (Sorry, I’ve been watching too many Michele Bachmann clips this week).

    This post is beautiful and poignant and I am incredibly grateful to Amanda for having written it.

    • http://www.cheerleaderforlove.com/ Jenny

      Great post. And total agree with you Mads. When I was putting together my website for officiating I was bemoaning the fact that I had to say I’m LGBTQ friendly– because of course I am. I am PEOPLE friendly. I am LOVE friendly. I am a cheerleader for love. I’m excited for couples who are in love and want a practical style wedding which celebrates them, their lives and their love.

    • http://www.craigathenawedding.blogspot.com athena

      “Every time the subject of coming out publicly comes up in conversation, he has the same argument. “I work with *kids*, Maddie” he says.”

      This breaks my heart. I just can’t wrap my head around such a blatantly ignorant perspective (or how it still exists today). Especially since in Canada, in the same bloody continent and pretty much the same society, it’s prohibited to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

      • http://love-vs.blogspot.com Vilija

        This breaks my heart because I too work with kids, gay kids and I cannot publicly acknowledge my support for them without fear of repercussions. I don’t tolerate bullying or slurs of any kind in my classroom, but am also not allowed to form a Gay Straight Alliance club on my campus. It is the stance of my school district that educators are not to promote homosexuality as acceptable. I can’t give them books to read about kids like them, I can be a strong supporter in as many creative ways as I can think of but without outward public support. This is not the way we should treat each other, this is not how to teach our children tolerance.

        • Class of 1980

          But since a club doesn’t meet during classroom hours, and is voluntary, can’t you legally create the club?

          The same issue came up in a neighboring county when someone wanted to form a support group for gay students. The local message board was filled with indignant people saying they thought it was outrageous they couldn’t talk about the Bible at school, but a gay club could exist.

          I pointed out that it wasn’t during school time and nothing was stopping them from forming a Bible Club.

        • Lethe

          If you work at a public school, and other non-curricular clubs exist, you are legally allowed to form a GSA no matter what your district says. For more info about this you should definitely call Lambda Legal and they can help you figure out your rights.

          • Christina

            But just because its legal, doesn’t mean the school district won’t find a way to fire you. I was in a similar situation. If a school has one club, it has to have any that students want to start. I was told that if a GSA was formed, all other clubs would be canceled to prevent it.

    • Amelia

      This. This just broke my heart.

  • http://libudgetbride.wordpress.com Ariella

    I was a bit spoiled living in New York. I didn’t really realize it until I moved to North Carolina and realized that a company could fire you at the drop of a hat just because someone was gay. I was mortified. I was incredibly nieve for thinking that because gays were offered that protection in NY, they were offered that protection anywhere.

    I’m a reporter for a non-profit online newspaper and my coworker said she had extreme difficulty finding couples who were willing to speak to her for a story about the increasing demographic in our area. I wonder how much the employment issue played into that fear…along with most fears about being gay and living in the south, I can imagine.

    I’m sure there are plenty of people out there, like me, who thought that EOE crap (equal opportunity my ass) applied to LGBT people everywhere and not just in certain states.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    • Meredith

      Since I have only worked in states that do have sexual oriental discrimination laws, I too, assumed that all did. How very wrong I was.

      Thank you for this post. For reminding me how lucky I am to live where I do and for reminding me how much further we have to go.

      • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

        I, too, have only lived in states with sexual orientation discrimination laws. I’m sort of speechless. I honestly had no idea things like this even happened. Now I’m just feeling waves of shame–partially for my naïveté, mostly for my country.

        • http://as-food-to-life.blogspot.com meredyth

          Yeah, at first I thought “oh, they must be in the military”. But then I kept reading and this problem in this day *never* occurred to me. It sounds like the 1950s. Just now I realized that even the military has changed its policy! Perhaps we should be focusing on this issue as much as the issue of equality in marriage. Because not everyone wants to get married but everyone wants to not be discriminated in their everyday lives.

          • Zoomie

            Not yet. 33 more days until DADT is officially gone. And then it wouldn’t be hard for a new President to instate an even stricter policy.

    • Class of 1980

      In many states, you can legally be fired for no cause whatsoever. That’s how they get around firing someone for being gay.

      Without a specific rule protecting gay people, they are at risk.

      • Kez

        Umm….not to be a hater. But I would say that the solution isn’t “a specific rule protecting gay people”, but instead a rule that says you can’t fire people for no reason whatsoever (and of course, that being gay isn’t a legitimate reason to be fired)

  • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com/ Kinzie Kangaroo

    This is amazing. Thank you, thank you, for putting words and images to something I have not yet been able to capture in a few sentences.

  • Franny

    They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words — I think that’s why this post captures its message so well, because of the absence of pictures. I hope that we reach a place somewhere soon where this couple, where EVERY couple, can openly share their joy.

    • Franny

      I want to add, that I hope this couple reads this post and sees all the congratulations and messages of support and feels the love and uplifting thoughts from this community.

  • Moz

    Great post. No other words.

    Except maybe if you’re the couple in the photos, in which case I wish you guys the best and all the happiness in the world.

  • http://sociallyconstructedkaytlin.blogspot.com Kaytlin

    I am so in love with this. I’m a fierce ally that lives in the Mid-West and these sorts of things make my blood boil. Thank you for posting something so illustrative of the work we have to do.

  • Nicole

    My partner and I were lucky that we didn’t have to be anxious about our engagement pictures going up on our photographer’s website (or on my post on APW!)- though I certainly would have had to be concerned in former jobs.

    Thank you for this, Amanda. It’s a great reminder.

  • http://lezgethitched.blogspot.com Diana

    Thank you Meg and Amanda–this post is wonderful. I’m lucky enough to work for a large university health system that does include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination statement, but my partner does not have that luxury–nor do many of my LGBTQ friends. Michigan has no anti-discrimination law, no hate crimes law, no civil unions, nothing. It’s like we don’t exist here–or worse, that they wish we didn’t. Thank you so much for bringing this to light in such a powerful way.

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    This absolutely breaks my heart. I can’t understand how, in this day and age, anyone would want to deny committed couples their right to marry. It breaks up families and weakens society as a whole. I hope one day Amanda can post these pictures here at APW and elsewhere, and no one will have any response but “Congratulations to the happy couple!”

  • SBS

    Exceptional post. The black blank photos are haunting. Why do we live in a country that insists some people must remain invisible?

  • http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com/ Lauren

    I have goosebumps from head to toe. Thank you for this.

  • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

    We should make a poster out of this, it is very powerful. Well done Amanda.

    • maura

      agreed. it gave me chills.
      beautifully done.

    • JEM

      I actually thought it should be in an art gallery, it is such a strong visualization of inequality.

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      Yes. I want this to be published, umm, everywhere.

      Amazing.

    • http://www.blushcelebrations.com bec

      That is a great idea! I think I will print it out and frame it for our regional Yay! NY party.

  • http://www.twitter.com/eskaybe eskaybe

    This just inspired me to buy my tote bag.

  • http://thehandmadeevent.com Kari

    Yes, sexual orientation is not a protected class in federal equal employment. It should be, because those protected classes like race and age are just as biologically imperitive as sexual orientation, but the government won’t admit that. In politicians minds, if being gay is a choice, then it shouldn’t be protected, because someone could unchoose it. Not true (ask any young gay kid in the closet because of fear from classmates or family. They wouldn’t “choose” it).

    My mom asked me the other day why this is an issue close to my heart (apparently some friends of hers asked if I was a lesbian because of the number of facebook posts and petitions and marches and Yay New York pimping, etc). I’m not, though don’t mind the assumption. I told her that I believe that it would be important to me even if I didn’t have friends who were gay (theater nerd alert) or relatives or people I don’t know but admire. Because it is a human rights issue. Shouldn’t we all be concerned with human rights?

    This was wonderfully illustrated Amanda – great post. Seems like something that could run on the NYTImes editorial page (submit!) I wish the couple all the best!

    • http://dearwedding.wordpress.com/ Andee

      Exactly! It is a human rights issue. I never really thought about marriage equality until we decided to get married. It makes me so angry that some people aren’t allowed to have what I have. F*%k that noise! I am lucky that I could go to the courthouse without the fear of being rejected when applying for a marriage license. Human rights indeed.

      • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

        Does it ever just baffle your mind that there are people who consider the right to bear arms to be a human right, yet marriage equality is a debatable subject?

        It leaves me speechless.

    • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

      It’s really unfortunate that the last Congress chose not to fight for ENDA (a watered down ENDA that didn’t even protect transgendered individuals, one of the most discriminated groups of individuals out there). I understand that they needed to pick their battles and that they chose health care and repealing DADT (both of which are vitally important, but let’s not forget that the DADT repeal still hasn’t been enacted. I KNOW) But then, this is the country that took eleven years to pass the Mathew Shepard & James Byrd hate crimes act, even with the storm of negative publicity about both.

      I have a friend who was fired because his supervisor thought he was gay. And since it was in Virginia, he had no legal recourse.

      The whole situation makes me want to cry, frankly. I don’t know why my life, my happiness and my rights are something for others to rally against.

      • http://www.hellerandhellerfurniture.com Jenn

        Virginia can be scary…. I forget what the rest of the state votes like sometimes.

      • http://www.4realequalityweddings.com emily

        i love virginia. i’m from there. but i can’t live there. because i’m gay. and i’m legally married. and we are trying to have kids. and we would lose all rights there. but i love it. it’s not fair. it’s not fair that people who live in one area of this country can experience freedom and others have to hide. it’s not fair. please. people. realize what you are doing when you don’t vote to allow everyone the same basic human right. the right to be happy, to be married, to have children. without consequences. please.

  • Bethany

    Amanda is our wedding photographer, and I saw this post when she put it on her own blog! Just another reason I’m so excited and proud to work with her.

  • http://www.hibouphoto.com kandise

    Gorgeous and tragic. America, I hope you get your shiz worked out.

  • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

    Well said. A few years ago I did engagement photos for my sisters-in-law, and we had to be so secretive about the whole thing because one of them was a police officer at the time in NC and was worried she’d get fired if the photos were online. It was so frustrating that they couldn’t share their photos with their friends on Facebook or Flickr or whatever like everyone else does.

    Congratulations to this couple, and hopefully someday soon they won’t have to worry about being fired because of who they love.

  • http://chilingwang.com Chi-Ling

    Wow. As many have said before me, well spoken.

    I was raised by conservative parents in a conservative religion, and I hardly gave these sorts of things much thought while growing up. One afternoon, over a decade ago, I walked out of the library and encountered two young transients lying on the grass, looking up into the sky, and holding hands. I actually took notice that day. They seemed as in love as any other couple I had ever observed. That day was the beginning of what has become really obvious to me. Love is love is love.

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    Thank you, Amanda. This made me tear up at work, where they don’t know I’m gay yet. I live in the south/midwest, and while I’m certainly not hiding it, I am also not advertising the fact that I have a wife and not a husband. I’m a pretty private person, so I likely wouldn’t shout it from the rooftops even IF I were married to a man, but still. But still.

    This was a beautiful, poignant post. The way you illustrated your point with the black photos was perfect. Thank you for the work you do.

    • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

      (Also, I hope this couple every happiness in the world.)

  • http://alessprocessedlife.com Susan

    Absolutely brilliant, and terribly heartbreaking.

  • Tamara

    When we got married last week, or now almost two weeks ago, in San Francisco City Hall, we were inspired and supported by our friends, David and Chris. They were a part of the last group of GLBT couples to marry on Election Day 2008. Chris was my man of honor. I was able to show my new husband their wedding photo, taken just steps away from where our formal photos were shot.

    This post reminds me of the incredible privilege some of us have, and how it is all of our responsibility to change the world in ways, big and small, until everyone who loves each other can marry and hell, just live free and happy and proud and embraced by this big ball of humanity we got goin’ on. I will continue to do my part, starting with my personal Yay! NY toast this weekend in Vegas, if no one else is going to be a geeky sociologist this weekend.

    And thank you so much for this post. Having just gotten our photos back, the black panels remind me that this celebration of love is so important, and the we have so, so much work left to do.

  • http://aroomwithaviewblog.com Anni

    A big thank you for this post. I think here, in a somewhat comfortable (but still not equal) city it’s easy for me to lose sight of the fact that discrimination is still so blatant in some places. It’s horrible and it makes me so angry that there are still people out there who don’t care or don’t think someone deserves the same rights just because of their sexuality.

  • Lauren

    Beautiful. Thank you

  • maura

    congrats to this couple. i hope your beautiful photographs continue to make you smile, and that one day we’ll live in a world where you can share those freely, without fear of discrimination.
    all the best!

  • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

    Amanda, Forrest and I had read this post on your blog and were totally impressed by the strength of statement made by the black photographs. Like many of the commenters above, I never quite realized just WHY we had been raptly following the gay marriage debate until after we were engaged; we wanted our gay and lesbian friends to be able to marry but that wasn’t really it.

    Looking back, I think it’s because we were in love. Really in love, in the early stages of our forever relationship. A relationship where the word “marriage” wasn’t yet central but certainly wasn’t taboo. And now? I cannot imagine telling anyone they can’t have the happiness of an engagement to be followed by a legal wedding with whatever trappings represent them as a couple.

    And THAT is why, despite being what feels like the only liberal living in conservative rural Idaho, I carried my YayNY bag to work. Because it needs to be talked about. And Amanda has figured out how to do that.

  • http://onegirloneguytwocats.wordpress.com/ Heather

    I think this post is what really gave me a new perspective… You hear of these things, but it’s not something I’m familiar with or have ever had to deal with. I think it was the absence of photos that really just hit me. That there are actually people out there who have to hide who they are, and in my naive little world, it just never hit me.

  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

    Oh, America, you fill me with such sadness. How in 2011 can anyone be arguing against same-sex marriage? (It’s been legal in Canada since 2006 nationally, and common-law partnerships of any stripe have been protected since 1999.) My heart goes out to everyone fighting for this basical human right.

  • SEZ

    It is still unsettling how quickly I can flip flop from hope and joy (yay NY!) to heartbreak and anger (because of the reminders of the real-life discrimination like this). Posts like Amanda’s, and all these comments, and this couple’s bravery to keep their love on the top of it all, make me realize that we all just need to keep trying to swing the balance toward the hopeful, so everyone can experience joy they deserve, and so basic human rights actually mean something.

    And can I just say that it is absolutely ludicrous to have laws against being able to express love…

  • Julia

    Thank you! Living in the Midwest, attitudes here are so varied. I simply don’t understand why though. Recently, my 21-year old cousin wrote an anti-gay post on Facebook. I was shocked. My immediate family all emailed each other in trying how to address this with him in a way that would actually get him to listen.

    This post made me realize exactly how I will. I know he is coming to my wedding (coming up too soon!). I think when he wishes me well, I’m going to say, “Thanks! You know, 60 years ago, we couldn’t have gotten married because we’re different races. The same way my sister and her husband couldn’t have. I think that would be so sad. Unfortunately, that is still the way it is for our other cousin.” The other cousin will be there with his partner. I don’t know that he really understands that, but rather parroting what he grew up hearing.

    But I think the reason we were all so shocked is that I honestly assume that anyone younger than me doesn’t hold such bigoted ideas. It was such a shock to my system. It is too sad to think there can be more generations thinking such a double-standard is acceptable.

    I’m open to any other suggestions on how to handle this!

    • http://ladyoftheforest.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

      Good to see another Midwesterner around. Sometimes I just can’t wrap my head around how such misunderstanding and hatred can lie beneath the surface of an otherwise pretty cool place. (But then again, it took America how long to vote a person of another race into presidency?)

      As for me, this is actually why I’m not celebrating… I mean, I agree, Yay New York, and every other state that has been caught up. But once this particular part of the Midwest not only accepts but to allows civil unions & marriage of same-sex couples, THEN I’ll be dancing.

  • Rachel

    This made me really angry. I’m Canadian, and while I knew the US still denied marriage rights to many of its citizens (which is horrifying enough as it is), I somehow didn’t know until today that such blatant workplace discrimination is somehow still legal in more than half of the States. How does this possibly happen when your Constitution guarantees “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”?

    The Canadian Charter of Human Rights states in section 15: “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” In 1995 it was officially decided in the Supreme Court that ‘sex’ includes discrimination based on HIV/AIDS status or gender identity, and that discrimination based on sexual orientation is encompassed under section 15.

    In other words, we’ve had these kinds of protections in place for 16 years – maybe it’s about time the administration in the US catches up with the modern world?

    Sorry if that was ranty – it’s not aimed at all you lovely Americans, but rather at your administration :)

    • Laura

      I was also taken aback by the lack of workplace discrimination protection in the US – I didn’t realize. However, even though we may have better laws against this sort of thing in Canada, unfortunately there are still many individuals who discriminate against others due to sexual orientation, race, etc. on a personal level. In fact, even in Canada I am certain that people still get fired for being gay, or otherwise “different”, despite the fact that this is against the law. So I guess I just want to mention, we ALL still have a long way to go!

      • Rachel

        Oh absolutely! There’s still a long way to go in Canada too, I didn’t mean to come across as if I was saying everything’s perfect and sunshine and roses in Canada – but legal protection is such a HUGE step – it’s hard to affect social change when the law doesn’t even recognize everyone as equal. There are still plenty of ignorant people in Canada, and backwards employers who will dance around the law by trying to find other excuses to fire someone when it’s really about sexual orientation – all of that has to change – but having the law on your side can go a long way towards fighting these inequalities. People who face discrimination in Canada already have a tough struggle getting justice and equality, I can’t even imagine how much harder it would be if you didn’t even have the law or the Charter of Human Rights to back you up.

        • Laura

          I totally agree! I didn’t think you imagined that everything was perfect here :) I just wanted to add that legal issues are only one part of the struggle – as I’m sure we all realize. And that people’s individual opinions may influence the law, but the law cannot supersede those individual opinions. In other words, even if you have laws against discrimination, it doesn’t mean discrimination will no longer occur.
          But yes, we are lucky in Canada to have the legal rights that we do!

          • Rachel

            Absolutely, well said :)

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

          But change has to happen at all levels, and I really think it is. My husband’s family are rednecks from the redneckiest part of the most redneck province, and even THEY support gay marriage. Or, at least, that gay wedding last summer that was so much fun. “You know, it’s Sam H’s daughter, they own that land out past Botha, and the other girl’s a Smith, one of John’s granddaughters.” (Which is I swear the way they talk about people. And horses. It’s all about linage.)

          You need both law and people on board. In Canada, I’d say we’ve got one and are working for the other, and the real progress has been made. It’s not all solved yet, but I know from an HR perspective, if you want to fire someone, especially someone gay or pregnant, you had better have a really, really clear case, because the lawsuit possibilities that open up are huge.

          • http://athoughtfulmarriage.wordpress.com/ Rachel

            Also true – a friend of mine here in Ontario who describes himself as a ‘gun-toting hardcore conservative’ was overjoyed when equal marriage was approved in New York. My grandparents, who are in their 80s, were quite excited recently to attend ‘their first gay wedding’ (their words, not mine) when two members of their rural, backwoods Riding and Hunt Club, who happen to be gay, got married. My grandparents were thrilled and so happy to be included in the wedding. And these are rural farmers in their 80s. So while there’s still a lot of problems, huge progress has been made in the last couple of decades with traditionally conservative Canadians. Which gives me hope for the US!

  • Stephanie S.

    absolutely incredible post. thank you

  • http://www.amandasummerlin.com Amanda

    Wow. You guys are really amazing. I have read every one of your comments at least three times now and I’m so overwhelmed and amazed to know that there’s so much support out there. If I could, I would hug every single one of you. Living here in Georgia, even in the metro Atlanta area, it can feel a little isolated, so your support really means the world.

    A few months ago when my partner lost her brand new job after only a couple of weeks, immediately after she came out to a co-worker, I was stunned by what my gay friends had to say… they were all of the opinion that there was nothing to be done about it and it was just too bad, so just move on. My straight friends, on the other hand, were all up in arms and wanting to help us find a lawyer. And that difference in attitude struck me as interesting. People who have always had these specific rights were ready to jump up and fight for them. And it made me wonder why more Americans don’t understand that.

    I was still mulling that experience over when I went on this photo shoot. Working with this couple was so much fun. They were all sweet and adorable and so in love that it was contagious. By the end of the session, I was grinning from ear to ear and my cheeks were hurting. As I’m leaving, one of them approached me a little timidly and asked in a hesitant voice if there was any way I would please not post these photos on my blog, because it might cause them to lose their jobs. And that was when my happy bubble popped.

    Because your comments are all so amazing, I’ve sent this link to the couple and told them that they are anonymously internet famous today. So, even though you can’t look at them, they can see that you support them and that people do care.

    Thank you all again for all of your comments and passion for equality. One day we will all be equal.

    • http://misallocationofresources.blogspot.com Jenn

      one happy day, we will all be equal.

      yes. this. please.

    • Class of 1980

      This is why I have a love-hate relationship with the South. I’m there too and not going anywhere. It has to change. Of course, there are some oasis of tolerance even here.

  • Stephanie

    love this. so powerful, yet so eloquent. i look forward to raising a glass this weekend to marriage equality!

  • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com Becky

    Wow, this is such a powerful post. Thank you, Amanda, for putting this into words and (non)pictures. And best wishes to the happy couple, who I’m sure will love the real pictures!

  • april

    Thank you, Amanda. Thank you for reminding all of us that there is still much, MUCH work to be done for marriage equality. The words and picture-less pictures here gave me chills. And tears. I’m speechless. And sad. angry. frustrated.

    Sending out virtual hugs to the couple you photographed and wishing them many blessings and joy! Sendin’ the love from San Diego! :-)

  • http://www.expandoutdoors.com/blog amyc

    I think I’ve *exactlied* (is that even a word?) more comments on this post than any other. Well done. Beautiful, poignant, powerful, distressing and angering (again, a word?).

    Thank you Meg and Amanda and all the supporters and believers in love out there.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    HELL. TO. THE. YES.

  • Bostonnina

    So you had me at “but i can’t show you. . .they could lose their jobs.” This has to be one of my all time favorite post’s. Thanks for reminding us of the many, many folks who are have to live in fear of their livelihood, privacy and relationships that could be taken away with one act of legalized homophobia.

    It was one of the reasons why i fled Nebraska and live in Massachusetts so many years ago. The real pioneers are my friends who have stayed behind and stayed the course.

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    Such a strong message. Thank you Amanda.

    And my best wishes to the couple. I pray someday that you don’t have to live in fear.

  • http://www.tuxandtalesphoto.co.uk Jaye Cole

    Wow – how delicately stated.

    Extraordinarily moving.

    That is all.

  • Thomas

    I cried when I read this. I thought about my cousin who never had the chance to legally marry her partner who was terminally ill, who she took care of for years physically, emotionally and financially as her health declined. I think about her step child who she barley ever gets to see after her partners death just because our country denied then the chance to legally proclaim there love and join there families. I think about how not that long ago my parents, a black man and a white women would not have been able to marry and have me. I think about my future as a person in the LGBT community, and hope and pray that by the time I find the love of my life that our country will have reached a point of openness and acceptation where I wont have to face the same things this couple and my cousin and countless other people have had to face.

  • http://www.christytylerphotography.com Christy T

    This post totally had me in tears, but it needed to be said (and needs to be said OVER and OVER and OVER) until things change.

  • Henry

    Most times I get angry when I read and hear of the biases and prejudice that still pervades so much of this country. This post just made me cry. Thank you. Sometimes crying is good.

  • Jarah

    Thanks for an exceptional post.

  • Jess

    A very beautiful post. It really highlights how many LGBT rights issues (equal employment and marriage equality in this case) intersect.

    Lots of people said they were surprised about the lack of employment protections for LGBT folks. If you’re wondering exactly what status is protected in each state, check out this map from the Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/documents/Employment_Laws_and_Policies.pdf

  • http://www.koruwedding.blogspot.com/ Koru Kate

    Powerful & heartbreaking.

    • Sad

      These comments make me sad.

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  • http://taleoftwobrides.blogspot.com Jessi

    This post spoke to me so much I had to write about it on my own wedding blog, and I may even cross-post THAT to my regular blog. Living in MA, working in Higher Education, I sometimes forget that I have it pretty easy as a lesbian planning my wedding. thank you for reminding me that the fight isn’t over, and that I’m lucky, damn friggin lucky.

  • kathie

    I am both overjoyed to know that another couple had a celebration of their love and commitment for each other and that they were able to share it with friends and family, and I am saddened that their identities have to be hidden because the world has too many ignorant people in it. It’s just love, people. And love is good.

  • http://www.tomatotomayto.wordpress.com Shana B

    We talked a ton about not getting married until everyone had the right to marry… Then Iowa passed the law and some of our dearest friends were able to share their love and passion with the world. It made me cry to be part of the greatness of our nation. But single states are not enough…
    Thank you so much for such a wonderful punch in the gut this morning. I wish I was someone that doesn’t believe the LGBT crowd should be able to marry. I wish I was someone who saw them as The Others. I wish I was other members of my family that argue with me regarding the sanctity of marriage, as though any union of two people in love isn’t holy. I think this would have cracked my perception just a little bit. So I will gleefully forward the shit out of this.
    Raise a glass to love, tolerance and doing things that scare you,
    Shana

    • Clare

      Why wish that you weren’t the tolerant person you are? :)

  • http://www.charismamoran.com Charisma

    This breaks my heart. =(

  • Alexandra

    Beautiful post. So touching. Congratulations to them and their love, and thank you for sharing. I hope someday, we can see those photos, because everyone’s rights will be protected.
    Blessings.

  • http://robvincent.net Rob

    Thank you for sharing this (or not sharing this, as it were.)

  • End-To-End Benton

    Lovely to have a clean version of your watermark so I can steel ur portfolios.

    Jokes. Thanks Amanda.

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  • Clare

    I’m in the UK, bi, and married happily to my husband… And this shocked me, really shocked me, that in America this can happen. Just the other day I was reading my workplace’s policy on how to help transgendered people transition at work (use of toilets, uniforms, etc) and it never even occurred to me that in a civilized society like the US that people could be fired for being trans, or bi, or gay…

    You can’t fire someone for being LGBT in the UK, it’s illegal, and I really hope that one day, soon, the US, which thinks of itself as the leading light of the 1st world, will follow our little island’s lead and do the sensible thing.

    This is a very haunting post… No one should be forced to live in the dark.

  • Tessa

    I honestly had no idea that this horrible discrimination against homosexual people in the workplace existed today. I live in California, and I know plenty of people who are openly gay, and none of them fear for their jobs. This is absolutely heartbreaking :( Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention.

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  • Sad

    I am sad that the world is losing their morals and not fighting for what they really believe. It doesn’t help if we just say that people can do whatever they want. Things are going downhill and I am so sad for our world.

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