The fight for equality didn't end with gay marriage. 5 acts of bravery you should know.

On June 26, 2015, love won. The Supreme Court ruled states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

There were quickie weddings. There were happy tears. There were rainbow filters on Facebook.

At the time, 60% of Americans felt same-sex marriages should be legally valid, so for many, it was a long-overdue celebration. Even the White House got in on the fun.


Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

But while most of us celebrated, sore losers and enemies of progress in every corner of the country got to work on anti-LGBT legislation, often described as "religious freedom" bills.

Anti-equality officials introduced these bills hoping businesses and individuals could cite religion as a reason to deny service or goods to LGBT people. Some of the potential laws were just related to marriage-related goods (think bakeries, florists, tailors), while others went even further, trying to allow taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT parents and prospective parents.

Don't get it twisted: This isn't religious freedom. It's bigotry and bullying.

And in 2015, over 115 of these bills were introduced at the state and local level in 31 states.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma speaks to the legislature about the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images.

But when faced with cruelty and injustice, many brave people have stepped up to fight back.

You may not know their names or live in their cities, but these men and women are on the front lines continuing to fight for equality long after the confetti dropped.

They're the unsung heroes of a movement that didn't end in June 2015. And today, I'm singing their praises.

1. The members of the Charlotte City Council who passed a nondiscrimination ordinance despite the governor and legislature throwing shade.

The new ordinance added sexual orientation and gender identity to long-standing protections like race, religion, and age. Bars, restaurants, taxis, and stores in Charlotte can't discriminate against customers because they're gay or transgender.

The ordinance passed on a 7-4 vote after a heated three-hour public meeting. But in North Carolina, the state government can overrule city decisions, and legislators may strike down some or all of the new law.

2. The governor of South Dakota, who vetoed an unnecessary bill affecting the lives of transgender kids.

The mean-spirited bill, which would have required transgender kids to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender they were assigned at birth, shouldn't even have made it to the governor's desk.

Luckily, Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed the bill and put an end to the madness.

The presidents on Mount Rushmore may or may not be crying about the state of things in South Dakota. Photo by Always Shooting/Flickr (cropped).

3. The 400+ businesses that essentially told Georgia, "This is a terrible idea."

Discrimination is bad for businesses. Period.

That's why companies like Microsoft, Unilever, and Delta (which employs more than 30,000 Georgians) spoke out against Georgia House Bill 757, which would allow faith-based organizations to refuse education, charitable, or social services based on religious beliefs relating to marriage. The bill passed last week, but Gov. Nathan Deal says he will veto it.


Founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson was one of the executives who publicly denounced House Bill 757. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

4. The Missouri Democrats who broke a record filibustering an anti-LGBT bill.

The eight members of the Democratic caucus began their filibuster on Monday, March 7, around 4 p.m. It continued for 39 hours into Tuesday evening, breaking a state record. It was done to prevent the passage of SJR 39, a bill that would write discriminatory language into the Missouri constitution.


The herculean effort made national news, and presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton tweeted their support. The filibuster worked temporarily, but the legislative session runs through May.

5. The Utah state senator who coughed and sneezed his way through a mini-filibuster.

When the legislature tried to rush a vote on an anti-LGBT bill with just three minutes left in the legislative session, state Sen. Jim Dabakis was having none of it. Instead, Dabakis, the only openly gay member of the Utah legislature, did what any hero in plain clothes would do: He stalled.

When it was his turn for the voice vote, Dabakis coughed, sneezed, and appeared to ponder his decision. Though the Senate president caught on and moved the vote along, it was too late and the bill was defeated.

You can see the vote and hear Dabakis' cheer-worthy stall in the video below.

All of these fearless acts of patriotism have taken place in the past month.

Coast to coast, the battle for equality and civil rights continues. Consider this is your wake-up call. But you don't need to be a local politician or business owner to make a difference.

You can help right now.

Vote. Speak up when you see discriminatory bills get traction in your city or state. Vote. Keep up with local news. Vote. Try not to get distracted by the glitz and gossip of the presidential election, as ordinances and laws passed locally have just as much — if not more — impact. Oh, and vote. Every election. Every time.

Because nothing, especially hate, beats an engaged, active citizenry.

Marriage-equality supporters protest at the federal courthouse in Ashland, Kentucky. Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.