There comes a time when we can no longer stay silent. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “We will remember, not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”
I will not stay silent any longer.
In light of the hearings on marriage equality in SCOTUS, a movement on Facebook began, changing your profile picture to a red equal sign. While the symbol is an excellent campaign tool for raising public awareness of the issues that were being discussed in the Supreme Court and for demonstrating who supports marriage equality, the act of changing your profile picture on Facebook does nothing. The true travesty within this movement is that those who support marriage equality are not doing enough.
Now, I’m not saying that changing your profile picture doesn’t mean anything. I changed my profile picture to the red equal sign. However, I did it in the hopes that people would ask me what it means—why I support this movement—in order to start a conversation, and that is, in fact, what happened. The conversation that ensued is the reason I am writing this.
I received the private Facebook message from someone with whom I haven’t had a real conversation in probably eight years (because we all know that happens on Facebook). Rather than engaging in a discussion, however, this individual began an interrogation. Rather than asking questions with an attitude of honest, intellectual curiosity, this individual asked questions in anger, defiance, intolerance and bigotry.
I believe that marriage should not be relegated to the status of “separate but equal.” I believe that the government should provide equal rights for all of its citizens, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. If you believe that marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is wrong based on your personal beliefs, convictions or religious background, fine. The problem arises when you force others to live according to your beliefs, based on your holy text, or based on your personal distaste for the LGBT community—that is discrimination. You cannot expect every individual in the nation to live according to your beliefs. We have seen this in our nation’s history before with the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. According to the laws by which we all live, all men and women are created equal, and must be given equal rights under the law.
Another MLK Jr. quote for you, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
At some point, we will reach the limit of tolerating intolerance, and we will take action. Action is not simply changing your profile picture on Facebook; it is contacting your representative about the rights that will be denied the LGBT community if HF1054 is voted down in the Minnesota legislature. Action is not simply posting inflammatory articles on your social media pages. It is doing. It is showing. It is achieving.
Because at some point, those who insist that marriage can only be between a man and a woman must realize that denying the LGBT community equal rights is to be on the wrong side of history. We can achieve equality. We must no longer stay silent. We must do.
This letter to the editor was submitted by Ellen Pugleasa, class of 2013.