I recently had the privilege of attending the 2017 “Creating Change Conference” hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force, which took place in Philadelphia last weekend. What an awesome sight in the City of LOVE! 

There were more than 4,000 attendees from across the country, and all were energized and ready to stand up and fight for LGBTQ rights, which will no doubt be under attack this year.

The annual conference featured four days of “strategizing, training, mobilizing, togetherness and fun” and this year coincided with the Women’s March on Washington as well.  On Saturday, I was proud to participate in Philadelphia's "sister march" with my family alongside my brothers and sisters in solidarity for the protection of all our rights and our diversity as a country.

Some of the signs on display at Philadelphia's Women's March

Americans United was an exhibitor at the conference and as such, our local AU volunteers and I heard stories from numerous people who were passionate about our cause. 

I met Jim, a transgender man who worked at an abortion clinic in upstate Pennsylvania providing support for transgender people in need of health care. He was worried about funding being cut for those services. 

I met Andrew who grew up in Queens and left for Miami to find a community that loved and accepted him. He still finds it hard to return for family visits and encounter friends who don’t accept him for who he is.

I met Kate from a small town in Virginia who said that she never received sex education due to the influence of religious curriculum in her private high school.

Unwilling to accept the advances in LGBTQ rights, women’s equality, and reproductive health, religious extremists want to use their dogmatic beliefs as an excuse to deny health care, refuse to provide services and disobey laws protecting Americans from discrimination and abuse. 

Many of the people we met in Philadelphia had real stories about the impact religious extremism has on their lives and were emphatic about protecting the separation of church and state.

At AU, we stand for equality, fairness, and religious freedom for all people and fight efforts from those who would harm others in the name of religion. Please join us in our fight to protect the rights of all and learn how you can help at Protect Thy Neighbor