On Tuesday, April 29, hundreds of LGBT New Yorkers and our allies will gather to demand that our government do more to protect us. Equality & Justice Day is the largest LGBT statewide advocacy day, where LGBT people from all across New York State meet at the Capitol in Albany to show our power in numbers and make our collective voice heard.
We've come a long way since our lives and experiences were deemed illegal and we were forced to remain in the closet or else be subject to arrest, but we have a ways to go before we can claim true equality under the law.
It's 2014 and yet many of us still lack protections in places of employment, housing and public accommodations. We continue to be victims of discrimination on the streets of our own neighborhoods. The law does not provide adequate safety measures for establishing who the legal parents are and keeping our children protected. We allow so-called licensed health professionals prey on vulnerable minors and their families and try to change who we are.
We read the headlines on an increasing number of mainstream outlets that are reporting on our issues and it's easy to forget how we got here, even for those of us on the frontlines. We may without realizing it take for granted the groundwork that was laid before us, and all of the work that goes on behind the scenes to push the needle forward on equal rights.
Equality is achieved not in a vacuum by luck or happenstance or by one person with a lot of free time and resources. We have secured equal rights under the law and a shift in public opinion in our favor because many of us have come together - wealthy and homeless, young and old, black and white, LGBT and ally, famous and unknown - with a common mission.
We've worked together to build coalitions and rallies, marches and battle cries. We've met with our elected officials and pleaded our case. We've shared our beautiful and heartbreaking stories of discrimination and unfair treatment and moved skeptics to become allies, concerns to become issues. As a community composed of many diverse voices and experiences, we've stood together as we will at Equality & Justice Day next week and raised our collective voice for change.
It's easy to feel disenfranchised from politics, to feel like our government is disconnected from the everyday realities of our lives. But the truth is that we do have a voice, and when we raise our voices loud and call on our elected officials to create laws and policies that reflect our lives in the name of equality, we are heard (for tips on how to lobby your legislator, check out this video).
Our legislators are in office because we elected them. They serve us. We cannot forget the power of the people to move our lawmakers and the direction of the country towards full equality and justice. History reveals that every significant social advance came out of a movement, a group of people devoted to an issue worked together to create that change.
We're at a significant juncture where public opinion is on our side. The time is ripe to raise the volume a notch and push forward those issues of most important to our community.