Thank you Gov. Wolf; Now it’s the community’s turn to act

Governor Tom Wolf joined state lawmakers and members of the LGBTQIA+ community to reintroduce the Fairness Act. (Photo via Governor Tom Wolf / Twitter.)

Last week Governor Wolf held a news conference in Harrisburg with a herd of Democratic State lawmakers to announce that they were reintroducing the Fairness act. If passed, the Governor would happily sign it. Thank you Governor, and our allied state reps and senators. You’ve done your part, but has our community?

The reality is that the Fairness Act will not become law since Republicans will kill it. And what do we do as a community about that? Do we sit there and just accept the defeat, or is there something we can do? Yes, in fact, there is.

It’s time to get off your social media, stop being a keyboard warrior, and act with your real voice, real name and real feet. It’s time to get out of the house and picket those republicans who refuse to let LGBTQ legislation even be voted on. It’s time to sit in their offices, to disrupt their speeches. If all you’ve ever done is post on social media, you’re just a keyboard warrior, not an LGBT activist. 

It’s time to go back to our roots and understand and appreciate how we got this far. It was being out, loud, and proud. It was about showing up in person. It was about pickets and disruptions and nonviolent civil disobedience. Did you forget something called the Stonewall Riots?

We’ve allowed those Harrisburg Republicans the luxury of our silence. Sure, we’ve drummed up support on social media. But that support is instantly filtered out and ignored by people who don’t want to hear it. We need to make the act of legislating truly difficult for Republicans. And that’s where your creativity comes in. A demonstration does not have to be the same old thing. It should be a surprise, something outrageous that the media cannot ignore. The only rule is it has to be non-violent. 

We’ve lobbied the Republicans in Harrisburg for more years than I’d like to admit, and it has gotten us nowhere. Over the last 20 years, one, yes, one piece of LGBT legislation has passed. The time for action is now. Without the Fairness act, you can get married today in Pennsylvania but be refused a wedding cake from a baker, be refused the venue of your choice for the reception, or be refused a room in a hotel for your honeymoon. At this point in Pennsylvania, unless you live in one of the few counties that have a non-discrimination law, you can be fired from your job, refused a rental unit, or even denied a bank loan as a LGBT couple. 

One more item. Give some thought to this: if the Fairness Act was law in Pennsylvania, last week we might have had a different ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Fulton v. Philadelphia case on whether Catholic Social Services could discriminate against LGBT parents in foster care and adoption. If we had the Fairness Act, Catholic Social Services would have been going against the state, not just the city. And that pressure may have very well swung the case in our favor.