Beyond Marriage Equality

Same-sex couples can now marry anywhere in the United States.  We’ve earned the right to savor and celebrate this victory for weeks, if not months.  This is not something that happened by accident; the LGBT community set its sights on marriage over a decade ago.  The campaign was smart, strategic and ultimately successful.  Few people thought that we would win marriage so soon.  But because of our community’s resolve and support, we did it.  Again, we deserve to celebrate and make this year’s pride festival one to remember. 

However, we should remember that discrimination against our community in employment, housing and public accommodations is still legal in Ohio.  We are also not protected under Ohio’s hate crimes law.  Winning marriage is not the end of our struggle; in many ways it marks a new beginning.  Discrimination against racial minorities and women didn’t end with landmark civil rights achievements.  It just became more subtle and difficult to address.  So here’s what we are focused on to prepare for the post-marriage environment:

The Ongoing Struggle for Non-Discrimination Laws

Equality Toledo will continue to push for statewide non-discrimination laws.  Along with our partners at Equality Ohio, we will remind people (and legislators) that a person can now get married one day and be fired from her job the next day, just for being gay or transgender.   We have the momentum, and polls consistently show wide support among Ohioans for comprehensive and inclusive non-discrimination laws.   

So-Called Religious Exemptions

We’ve already seen local judges refuse to perform same-sex weddings, and there are sure to be additional efforts to scale back our rights.  Our campaign to highlight the intolerance of some public officials will not cease.  We are committed to fighting for rules and procedures that ensure equal protection under the law, and we will not be intimidated by bigots who exploit religion to shield their intolerance. 

Our Community’s Safety

Unfortunately, with every major victory for our civil rights, our opponents redouble their efforts to deny us our liberty.   And sometimes their anger and resentment is manifested violently in the form threats or hate crimes.  Equality Toledo will continue to work with the Toledo Police Department to raise awareness of our unique concerns and issues.  We will also continue to help our partners at Equality Ohio fight for inclusion in the statewide hate crimes law.

Continuing Education and Training

Equality Toledo’s core mission is to educate the public about the LGBT community and our issues.  These are exciting times, and the public is yearning for more information.  There are clear signs that our trainings and workshop are in higher demand since the Supreme Court’s ruling.  If you know of any training or educational opportunities, please contact us for more information.

There is much work ahead of us, but we are excited and optimistic.  This moment could not have happened without your hard work and passionate activism.  For now, enjoy the moment and reflect on the beauty and significance of each new marriage.  

Volunteering with CASA

Will YOU Help An Abused Or Neglected Child or Teen?

If so, become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer through the Lucas County Juvenile Court. 

Children and teens enter the foster care system on a daily basis through no fault of their own. It’s traumatizing. It can be especially traumatizing if the youth is Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual or Transgender. According to Lambda Legal, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth placed in group homes and other congregate care facilities are significantly more likely to be subjected to harassment, discrimination and violence than their non-LGBTQ peers. Blatant hostility and verbal abuse toward LGBTQ youth are often an accepted aspect of institutional culture.”

Although LGBTQ youth are estimated to comprise 5-10% of the total youth in care, Ohio still does not require mandatory training on LGBTQ issues for group home providers, foster parents adoptive parents or staff.  The result is that those entrusted to care for these abused or neglected children and teens do not always have the knowledge and skills necessary to compassionately and successfully provide safe shelter nor appropriate services and assistance.

What LGBTQ youth desperately need is a caring adult to be their “voice” while they are involved in the foster care system. An adult who understands the dynamics, issues and resources pertinent to their needs. CASA volunteers are that “voice.”

A CASA volunteer is appointed by the Juvenile Court Judge to serve as the guardian ad litem (GAL) for an abused or neglected child. The CASA/GAL explores the child’s circumstances and provides the judge carefully researched information focused on the child’s best interest. The CASA/GAL remains an advocate for the child, helping to ensure the child’s safety and keeping the court alert to the child’s needs until permanency is established. 

A CASA/GAL volunteer must be at least 21 years of age but need not have any special work or educational background because Lucas County CASA provides free training.  Our next training session, which is scheduled for September, is filling up fast.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about how you can help our community’s most vulnerable children, LGBTQ identified or not, please contact CeCe Norwood at 419.213.6781 or cnorwo@co.lucas.oh.us or visit the Lucas County CASA website at www.casakids.net and complete an application.

7/7/2015 Toledo Municipal Court Judge refuses to perform same-sex marriage

"I'm entitled to get married just like anyone else." Carolyn Wilson

Watch the Clip

6/27/2015 Toledo's LGBT Community Celebrates Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

"Love is love, is love, that's what I have to say," said Angie Carriker, who married her spouse 3 years ago.

Watch the Clip

6/27/2015 After years of waiting, area couples rush to wed

"I was in tears this morning," said Jean Dominique, "Today we became a family."

Read the Blade Clip here

6/9/2015 Toledo City Council voted in favor of a Marriage Equality Resolution.

"People of Toledo have been looking forward to this ruling for a very long time," said Nicholas Komives, Executive Director of Equality Toledo.

Watch the clip here