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COMMENTARY: Fifty shades of red

The Huffington Post put the map, seen at the right, on its Facebook page on March 29, 2013.

Each area of red on the map shows where someone changed their Facebook profile picture to the Human Rights Campaign’s red symbol for equality. More than 2.7 million Facebook users changed their profile picture on Tuesday, March 26, according to Facebook statistics.

What struck when I looked at this map was the correlation of where the sparseness of red is on the map of red equality signs and where the red is on the map of the slave states, shown on the far left.

I pointed this out in a post I made on Facebook, and a sweet friend of mine gently reminded me not to focus on the negative of the maps, but on the positive of how much red there is on the equality map.

I didn’t see the equality map in that way – I saw it in a racist, homophobic way – since this is what I’ve been programed to see and how I’ve been programed to react.

So, I took another look at the equality map again with different eyes, and what I saw was a sea of red, a sea of support, a sea of love.

The equality map is filled with red -– there is even a solid red patch deep in the heart of Texas - now that is progress.

I’m not saying there is still not work to be done because judging from some of the emails I’ve received this week alone, some folks are still not convinced we should have equal rights. Some don’t believe we should have any rights what-so–ever, and some would be happy if we’d just leave the country.

I read this week that the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, Fred Luter, said in a radio interview:

“I would not be surprised that at the time when we are debating same-sex marriage, at a time when we are debating whether or not we should have gays leading the Boy Scout movement, I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that we have a mad man in Asia [North Korea] who is saying some of the things that he’s saying.”

Just add the bombing – when or if it happens - to the list of things gays are responsible for: 9/11, tornadoes, hurricanes, the divorce rate among heterosexuals, and all the other evils that have befallen the United States of America. There are just some people who will go to their graves believing what they believe. That is their journey, that is their little bit of racism, hatred and discrimination they will have to answer for.

I believe at this moment in time, the red on the equality map needs to be celebrated. I believe the acceptance and support of our friends and families and co-workers and strangers needs to be celebrated, for these are the people who will stand by us and love us and help us to win whatever battles may lie ahead.

The equality map will never be solid red – at least not in my lifetime. Maybe someday when people put what is best for the people ahead of what is best for them – and when people understand that the separation of church and state is not there to protect religion from the government but instead to protect the government from the clutches of religious zealots.

Maybe then the map will be a beautiful shade of red. Until then … the fight continues.

Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.