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.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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