I must confess that I have always been a bleeding heart with a peculiar interest in Missouri politics. Supporting the rights of LGBT folks is part and parcel of my principles as a progressive, and PROMO is doing that important work right here in my state. I also have the privilege of knowing some of the PROMO staff; their skill, commitment, & compassion are reason enough to support this organization. PROMO also has the vision and capacity to look beyond the important but narrow issue of marriage equality to issues more broadly affecting LGBT folks, such as health care, employment discrimination, and concerns specific to trans folks. Furthermore, in the wake of the death of Mike Brown, it has been heartening to see PROMO stand in solidarity with communities of color who face disproportionate police violence.
However, my support for PROMO has a much more personal root: my baby sister. When she came out to me, she was visibly relieved. It literally seemed as if a weight had been taken off her shoulders. In that moment, I was so proud of her and so grateful that she chose to share with me. After speaking those words, shedding a few tears & hugging, I thought that things would get easier for her. She no longer had to carry the burden of having her family not know her authentic self. However, it quickly dawned on me that she could face many challenges just because of who she is. First, my thoughts turned to my sister finding “the one” and having a family. Not only would she be unable to get legally married in Missouri (that’s changing as I write – progress!), but there would be related hurdles. Spousal hospital visitation rights, birth-certificate technicalities, and parental rights for both my sister and her someday-partner would all present problems just because of who they are. There are also more immediate, less romantic problems that my sister may have to face because Missouri doesn’t protect LGBT folks from discrimination.
Number one, she could be fired from a job just because of her sexual orientation. (Fortunately, she’s found a position with an employer that has an LGBT nondiscrimination policy, but it’s only a policy – not the law. Many folks don’t have the privilege of working for inclusive employers.) She could be denied a lease on an apartment or denied service at a hotel or restaurant – anywhere open for business – based on nothing more than the anti-gay whim of the landlord or business owner.
I love my sister. And I love my state. And I want my state to treat my sister with the dignity & respect she deserves. PROMO is an organization of wonderful, passionate advocates working to make this a reality. PROMO is leading the way to a better Missouri, one that truly embraces my baby sister for the incredibly talented, funny, resilient and loving person she is. I ask you to join me in lending your support – however you’re able – to this tremendous organization. Click HERE to give.