Watching the news over the last few months has given me a strong sense of déjà vu.
In June, we all witnessed, protested and mourned as the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decision that came down when I was very young and has shaped the course of my life.
For me, and for so many of us, Roe has never been about abortion access alone. Roe has always been about our ability to make choices as women and LGBTQ+ people about our bodies and about our futures. It was — and is — about freedom, autonomy and our power to define ourselves for ourselves.
By overturning this decision, members of our Supreme Court are trying to send us back to a time before our country understood our rights to bodily autonomy. And unfortunately, we know that this attack on abortion access is part of a coordinated campaign to erode our foundational freedoms. They’re attacking our trans and non-binary family, particularly our trans and non-binary kids. They’re censoring our stories and our identities while trying to stop us from having honest conversations about systemic injustice.
We cannot — we will not — go backward and let a small group of radicals dictate control over our health care, bodily autonomy and the right to make informed personal decisions for ourselves and our families.
That’s why we put so much energy into organizing to protect another set of rights we fought for not too long ago. In July, we saw the U.S. House pass the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation protecting the legal status of marriages for LGBTQ+ people in the United States from suffering potential attacks by our Supreme Court.
Fighting for marriage equality again reminded me of the strength it took to get us to our past victories and how much stronger we are today. Now, as we continue to push to protect the legal status of LGBTQ+ marriages, we also fight to protect everyone in our community, especially Black and Brown trans women, men and non-binary people from discrimination everywhere.
That includes discrimination and inequities in health care. In this already challenging time for all our communities, we are grappling with a new, emergent threat: the monkeypox virus outbreak in the U.S. We are meeting the moment as we have during significant health crises for decades: by demanding urgent action from leaders in all spaces to protect the health and welfare of our community. Right now, HRC is working closely with community partners, including Gilead and other groups, to address the needs of LGBTQ+ people in the face of increasing incidences of MPV.
Now is the time to take what we have learned from our past experiences with health crises and apply these lessons. We know that, at this moment, it’s imperative that we prioritize outreach to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals to ensure equitable access to vaccines and treatment by partnering with community organizations and health clinics. It bears repeating: A public health response that does not center equity is a failed public health response.
Many of the challenges we face today remind us of our past fights as a movement and as an organization, but we are armed with some invaluable defenses. We have experience from the battles we’ve already fought and won. We have progress in our grips, and we will not be letting it go. And we have a coalition of incredible community members and movement partners like you — folks who understand that we are so much stronger together. Our past teaches us and our future promises us one thing: When we truly come together, we are truly undefeatable.
Joni Madison , Interim President , Human Rights Campaign