Friends in northern Ireland and Great Britain, I can think of five immediate responses to the Supreme Court judgement today - these are not complete, nor perfect, but honestly offered, and they may apply anywhere such questions are raised:
1: Gratitude to those involved in the case, who will likely be feeling some grief today. They worked hard and are paying a cost for upholding this vision of equality. They deserve our gratitude, respect, and a rest. I’m talking about Mr Lee, the Equality Commission, and others. Please note that I am not commenting on the ruling itself - I think this far more complex than a simple yes/no judgement can encompass. The folks who took the case did so for the sake of the common good, and deserve our thanks.
2: If you run a business, consider making a public statement supporting LGBTQ+ equality, and affirming that you would be glad to have us do business with you. Sometimes the market can behave in ways that work with the evolution of an interdependent, humanized society. So if you’re a business owner, show me that you deserve my business, and that you won’t affirm ideas associated with harming me. Anything less than full support for LGBTQ+ equality isn’t sufficient.
3: Give your time and money to businesses that support full LGBTQ+ equality, and don’t do business with anyone who wouldn’t do business with me or my LGBTQ+ family on terms that respect us. Nonviolent buycotts/boycotts have a noble history, especially when they are rooted in calling the entire community to evolve beyond sectarianism or marginalizing people based on gender, race, sexual orientation or identity, etc. I’m calling for an imaginative buycott, voting with feet and money to support commercial entities who publicly support LGBTQ+ equality, and a boycott of any other commercial entity which does not support LGBTQ+ equality. What this means in practice: when you need to buy a cake (or anything else), get it from someone who affirms equality, and send a gracious email to the one you’re boycotting, telling them why, and saying that you will be happy to purchase from them in the future when they change their policy.
4: At the same time, I want to not speak ill of the people who don’t support LGBTQ+ equality. They have been indoctrinated by a religious system that does not look outside itself for answers. Many of us were raised in such spaces, or at least on their fringes. Those of us who left were initiated out of them by people we happened to meet, books we happened to read, festivals we happened to attend. Religious systems that devalue historically marginalized groups - women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ people, and more - also harm their adherents, by closing them off to the kaleidoscopic wonder of life. These folks deserve compassion as well as challenge. I ask the same for myself - I'm still a Christian, and the line here does not run between Christians and non-Christians, but between people who support LGBTQ+ equality and those who don't.
5: But the deepest respect, and the most space, should be given to our LGBTQ+ family today. Our struggle is not defeated, our lives are examples of the beauty of what humans can be, the tide of history is with us. And the us includes even those who oppose equality, because a society that honors the dignity of historically marginalized people is good for everyone.
So today, if you’re not LGBTQ+, consider reaching out with curiosity, respect and support. Some of us are feeling burdened by a weight that we didn't create, and doesn’t belong to us. If you're not LGBTQ+, it's more your responsibility to share it. I invite you to share this post below, and with it, comment about what you are willing to do to step further into solidarity with us, building a fairer world for everyone. - Gareth Higgins