Last week I had the opportunity to attend a press conference for a Marriage Equality Initiative appropriately entitled MayDay. Joyce “Jazzie” & Sabrina “Sonny” Jones-Smith are a same gender loving couple who were recently married in Washington DC. Since Georgia’s Marriage laws do not permit ( or appropriately acknowledge) marriages between same sex couples due to an anti-gay marriage amendment made to the State of Georgia’s Constitution in 2004. Last month, Sonny & Jazzie stopped in DC on their way to attend their son’s wedding in Massachusetts to Tie the Knot. However when the newlyweds returned to their home in Stockbridge Georgia their status as a married couple is not recognized in the state of Georgia. As they head to Savannah today & continue to promote the Mayday Marriage Equality Initiative I thought I would share some images from the press conference where this statewide initiative was initially revealed.
The Press conference moderated by Miko Evans of Meak Productions touched upon the couples motivation to spearhead this initiative. Panelists Betty Couvertier provided more context and historical perspective on the struggle for equality for members of the LBTQ and same gender loving community and their allies and Lundy Jones shared information on In The Life Atlanta and the direction the organization is heading as well as some of the important policies and legalities same gender loving couples encounter in Georgia.
Historically “Mayday” has been used as a distress signal . The Mayday Georgia Equality campaign encourages same gender loving and LGBTQ couples living in the south to head out on May 1, 2014 and submit an application for a marriage license. While the license will be denied, the applicants will be recorded and recognized; an important step in this fight for social justice. Listening to the discussion created a moment where things began to come full circle. The discussion caused me to reflect upon conversations and meetings I had about and with members of the LGBTQ community here in Atlanta years ago while working towards the development of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. An important goal of the center was to create an inclusive environment as we created this place that would highlight the intersection of civil and human rights. I also remembered hearing Betty speak before and her passion for garnering community support and resources for members of the LGBTQ community here in Atlanta. While I no longer work for the Center, when the NCCHR opens it’s doors this summer I imagine it would be the type of place where conversations and forums like these will occur. For now the Jones-Smith’s are taking their message to the streets. Sonny(Left) and Jazzie (Right) are both media personalities on the Louddmouth media network. Jazzie also is the CEO and founder of Bareheads Barely There Productions and the Bareheads Dream Wedding Expo. To learn more about the #MayDayGaEquality initiative visit LouddMouth Radio . Sonny & Jazzie invite Same Sex LGBTQ couples, organizations, media, friends and family that are allies in support of Marriage Equality in Georgia to take part in the May 1st initiative to invoke change by stepping up and letting your voices be heard. As I listened to the discussion about Marriage Equality I was reminded of this statement made by Kay McDougall, the United Nations’ Independent Expert on Minority Issues, in her welcoming remarks to the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, November 12, 2009
“Societies flourish when all voices are heard, when all opinions are considered; when all citizens participate; and when the talent that exists in all communities is enabled to contribute to political institutions. Inclusion is good for societies at large, not just for those previously left out.”
Last week my husbands busy travel calendar and some last-minute changes to Jackson’s schedule necessitated me to bring him with me to this event. When he is older I will share with him more specifically my feelings on the importance of equality for all. But since he is only 4 years old, for now we focus on a few key things: 1. the importance of being a good person 2. Why you should always be nice to people. 3. Different is neither good, nor bad – just different. 4. Family structures differ. Some people have a mommy and a daddy, some have two moms or two dads or only one. What’s most important is that kids have adults (parents) who love them. 5. Winning is great but how you play the game is more important 6. No hitting, kicking, biting, pushing etc. if someone upsets you walk away…come on he’s only four. So I love being able to show him all of the things through the friends and families who we spend our time with. When he is older, he will not question these things because they will have been around him his entire life. But for now, we are still working on who is the boss. He’s not convinced that it’s me…
I am grateful that a chance encounter at the Atlantan Brides Modern Luxury Release Party would result in these wonderful opportunities to work with Jazzzie and Sonnie. I’ll share more images from our photo shoots in another post.