Some of my closer blogger friends know that I am a loud and proud advocate and ally for LGBT rights and overall civic equality. I think this transcends party lines and is the responsibility of everyone in this country. The LGBT movement is particularly close to my heart because my cousin and her wife were the first LGBT couple to bring a lawsuit against Governor Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson in South Carolina for recognition of their marriage in 2012 here in D.C. And after nearly 18 months of posturing and blowback, they won (although Wilson has continued to appeal the decision in his desire to bring it to the Supreme Court). Both of them have served the public in some capacity: my cousin, Katie, is a South Carolina State Trooper, and she puts her life on the line every day to help maintain general peace and stability in their state. Her wife Tracie is a U.S. Airforce veteran. They have three adorable children, two of which Tracie carried using Katie’s eggs and an anonymous donor. Their children are the reason they brought the lawsuit, because without marital rights, they were legally prohibited from making decisions about each other, and Katie was unable to make medical decisions for her own biological son, who suffered a stroke when Tracie gave birth to him. They have suffered discrimination, public ridicule on news articles and – basically – they put their lives out there front and center to stand for the equality of all couples like them. They paved a new path. And they make me very proud. I think that acceptance and tolerance begins at home with our peers, and with the education of our children through exposure and books. If more characters identified as LGBT, nothing would be different about them. They’d just be another person, and isn’t that the entire goal? June is Pride Month and in celebration, Listening Library and RandomHouse are launching a new reading resource for LGBT teens, parents, teachers and librarians called Read Proud Listen Proud! This site has been inspired by the We Need Diverse Books movement started by Ellen Oh and Melinda Lo, as well as by STONEWALL, Ann Bausman’s recent work of non-fiction chronicling the gay rights movement. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as the website will be launched at this weekend’s American Library Association annual conference in San Francisco. It comes in the wake of a teacher in North Carolina being forced to resign for featuring an LGBT fairytale in his curriculum, and ahead of the Supreme Court’s pending decision on marriage equality. Read Proud Listen Proud is a safe place where readers can find suggested books and audios that illustrate positive LGBT role models and legitimate, real-world issues, as well as featuring author interviews and discussion guides. Stories are powerful. Let’s demand diversity in them.
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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.