BY JAN STEVENSON AND SUSAN HOROWITZ
This Sunday, hundreds of LGBT people will shop, dance, eat, drink and be merry at the 7th Annual Ultimate LGBT Wedding &Anniversary Expo at MotorCity Casino Hotel. There will be over 100 equality-conscious vendors, all of whom want to help LGBT couples create a fantastic wedding experience. It will be joyous, it will be fun, it will be celebratory, it will be revolutionary and romantic.
It will also be an important political statement.
An aspect of the rise of Trump and the current backlash against minority rights is a visceral, political reaction to the legalization of same-sex marriage. There are some who cannot abide LGBT people getting married. Some of those same people are still traumatized by the experience of a Black U.S. President, and some feel that immigrants are stealing our country.
It is unlikely that minds and hearts will change among the right-wing “true believers.” But it is vitally important that we remain visible, outspoken, connected to each other and supportive of the businesses, individuals and political leaders who believe in marriage equality. We cannot, and will not, take our hard-won rights for granted. Complacency in the face of backlash guarantees erosion of the very rights we have worked so hard to secure.
Attorney Angie Martell explains in her op-ed in this issue that marriage rights are threatened now by new laws that allow for discrimination based on religious convictions. In fact, by getting married some couples could be outing themselves, subjecting them to discrimination that they could avoid as closeted “good friends.” Leaders at Equality Michigan are watching Republicans in Lansing, building relationships and support to thwart any attempts to pass such a Religious Freedom Law here in Michigan. The ACLU of Michigan is also closely watching our politicians for signs they might try to pass discriminatory laws here. Martell and Jay Kaplan of the ACLU’s LGBT Project will be discussing these very issues, and what we as a community can do to protect ourselves, at a pre-Expo workshop at 11 a.m. March 26 on the second floor of the MotorCity Casino Hotel ballroom.
The LGBT community has always been good at throwing a party, and the Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo this Sunday will be a fantastic gala! It will also be our chance – as a community – to boldly embrace our legal right to marry whomever we want, to publicly celebrate our marriages with style, pageantry and excellent decor, food and drink. We will never go back into the closet, as individuals or as couples.
For those people who cannot accept us, it is an uncomfortable reality that LGBT couples can marry openly and honestly. For us, it is the very essence of who we are and it is worth fighting for. The Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo gives us a chance to support the businesses that understand and value equality, to support the organizations that work every day in the political arena to protect our rights. It’s also our chance to celebrate and support each other as LGBT citizens and loving couples. We hope to see you all Sunday!