‘Beyond I Do’ Ad Campaign Highlights Michigan Couple in Fight Against Discrimination in Post-Gay Marriage Legalization Era

Eve Kucharski
By | 2018-06-06T15:42:15+00:00 June 6th, 2018|Michigan, News|

Just six days after Krista and Jami Contreras’ first child was born, they did what any loving parents would do and scheduled their daughter’s first checkup. But, when they came into the doctor’s office for the visit, they were told the doctor wasn’t there and would not be serving their family. They were then told that the doctor who was supposed to serve their daughter had religious beliefs that didn’t support the fact that Krista and Jami are lesbians. That was in 2014. Fast forward to present and the Contreras family has now made national headlines with their story, and is involved with a statewide campaign called “Beyond I Do.” The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness and emphasize that LGBTQ people still suffer from massive rights violations, even post the legalization of gay marriage.
“Our daughter was born in October of 2014. That’s when it happened, but we didn’t say anything for three months because we were new parents and didn’t know what to do. It took a while for it to sink in, what had really happened and in the LGBTQ community you almost start to accept a certain level of discrimination and then the more straight people we told, they said, ‘Oh my God, this is not OK,’” Krista Contreras said. “For some reason, gay people were like, ‘Yeah, that sucks, but I’m not surprised.’ It was interesting, and I think that encouraged us to tell our story.”
That was why when the “Beyond I Do” ad campaign reached out to the family they were on board. The campaign is made possible because of a partnership between the Ad Council, a pro bono social campaigning organization, the Gill Foundation, an organization that makes tax-deductible grants available to LGBTQ causes, the CP+B advertising agency and Redscout, a brand strategy and design and innovation agency. The ad campaign currently highlights Michigan as one of 31 states nationwide that allows for places like the offices of medical practitioners to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Krista Contreras said that she believes that if the majority of people understood that much local legislation actively discriminates against LGBTQ people, they would vote for different, more progressive legislators in the future.
“Because people who have the mindset of change might just not understand what local legislation means. So, a big part of why we share our story is that our children have a better future, whatever their sexuality is,” Contreras said. “And, just in general to do what we can and make it a better place and to let people know that everyone has the same basic rights to crucial services like health care.”
The Contreras’ concerns are also especially relevant today, too. Currently, the Supreme Court of the U.S. is gearing up to decide the result of an LGBTQ-based religious freedom case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Lt. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which a baker denied a gay couple services because of his religious beliefs. And, just past January the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that defends those in medicine who refuse to provide care for LGBTQ people. That’s why Contreras said she is proud to be part of this campaign.
“The fact that you can be denied health care just because of who you love is insane. What if a police officer comes to your house and says, ‘Oh, you’re gay? I’m leaving.’ That’s the same idea,” she said. “It’s basic rights and I think it’s important for other people to know that we don’t have those rights still and my kids are still very young, but when they’re older and they’re learning about this stuff in history books, I want them to know that we didn’t just stand idly by. We did what we could, we used our voice to try and make a change and, hopefully, they’ll be proud of that.”
Contreras also emphasized that she doesn’t want to downplay the positive and progressive forward strides made for and by the LGBTQ community to date, but wants to make sure that people don’t think the fight is over.
“Once marriage became legalized a lot of people thought, ‘We’ve won, the fight is over.’ Yes, we have made huge strides in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go. We still don’t have equal rights,” she said. “The fight is not over until LGBTQ people are treated the same as everybody else and have the same rights to basic healthcare, purchase or rent a home. People are being evicted from their homes for being gay and it’s still legal.”
To read more about the Contreras’ story, go to pridesource.com for BTL’s original coverage of their story. More information about the campaign can be found online at BeyondIDo.org.

About the Author:

Eve Kucharski
Writing became my life when I enrolled at Michigan State University's journalism program. While at MSU, I also discovered I had a passion for the spoken word, and I heavily involved myself in the world of radio. In May 2017, I earned my bachelor's degree in journalism with a concentration in electronic news media. Currently, I am thrilled to be working as an editorial assistant at Between The Lines, a weekly LGBTQ newspaper based in Livonia, Michigan.