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Kierra Johnson Headshot

Proudly Advocating for Love and Freedom

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Back in March, on a cold but beautifully sunny morning, we gathered with thousands of others in front of the Supreme Court. The mood was high. At times it felt more like a street celebration than a political demonstration. People squeezed onto the steps, crowded the sidewalks, and spilled onto the other side of the street. It didn't seem to matter whether anyone could hear the speakers or see those coming and going from the court; what mattered was only proximity to this moment in history. We were all there, bundled up, to show our support for marriage equality.

All the nervous excitement felt entirely justified -- because we're winning. Support for marriage equality is growing at a breakneck speed. It's unlikely that the issue will be fully settled for every state with the Supreme Court decision that will be handed down any day now, but the tide has turned, and now 72 percent of Americans believe that marriage equality is inevitable. This is no accident: Many decades of hard work and organizing got us to this point.

This is a great moment, but winning marriage equality is more of a beginning than an end. There is much more to do to create true lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) equality and freedom. The rights and protections of marriage and divorce are also where much of the modern women's movement organizing started in the 1960s, but the movement quickly expanded to work for many other fundamental rights, particularly those affecting economic security.

Marriage and so many issues come down to the most basic freedoms: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Both of our movements seek to define, build, and celebrate a diversity of families. This includes the right to control what you do with your body, the agency to choose whom to love and be intimate with, the ability to decide how and when to build a family, and the power to build a community that reflects and protects these values. These are the building blocks of the LGBTQ movement, but also of the reproductive justice movement. Both of our movements hold true that those most personal decisions of love and sex and family should not be intruded upon by politics.

Our movements are so closely aligned in values but too frequently siloed off as unrelated. Reproductive justice and LGBTQ equality are not only rooted in the same principles, but many of our core issues overlap.

Both movements work to get more comprehensive and accurate sex education in schools. We believe that young people deserve information on healthy sexuality and relationships, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. It's detrimental to all students when sex education ignores the full scope of sexual relationships. Many states even make it illegal to discuss the health needs of LGBTQ students, and sometimes even to mention their existence at all. Campus organizers in Alabama have been working to challenge such laws in their state.

The reproductive justice and LGBTQ movements also both work to combat the policing of bodies and sexualities. Too often our bodies become transformed into public property by the culture, whether it's the eating habits of a pregnant woman or the gender expression of a transgender man. We both work to challenge discriminatory policies and fight the limiting expectations of our culture.

Both movements are about the right to form a family. Sex education, birth control, and abortion are all fundamentally about deciding whether and when to become a parent, and they impact our abilities to parent the children we have. While we are familiar with attacks on access to abortion and birth control, these same opponents block access to reproductive health technologies, fight same-sex adoption, and promote policies that result in the coercive sterilization of trans people. Our issues are inextricably linked, so it's no surprise that we face the same opponents. In Congress, outside an abortion clinic, and marching past the Supreme Court, the very same people who block reproductive health care are fighting tooth and nail to stop the tide toward LGBTQ equality. They even paint the Roe v. Wade decision as a cautionary tale for the LGBTQ movement: Don't ask for too much. Don't win too quickly. Be patient. Don't get greedy.

But we are impatient, and we are clear in our purpose. Every human deserves love, family, and a home. There is power in the families we create and the communities we build. We're not afraid to use that power for justice -- and that's why we will win.