The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a warning sign to marginalized communities and a direct example of how elections have consequences. Now, the victories in the fight for equality and respect that the LGBTQ+ community has waged for many years is at risk.
I work as a security guard in Philadelphia, and I am a proud member of my union, SEIU 32BJ. While working in this field, I’ve called out many injustices in my workplace, such as the lack of fair pay and workplace protections. To further help myself and my coworkers, I got involved with my labor union. I joined the bargaining committee that negotiated a fair contract for security guards across the City of Philadelphia. I am not only fighting for my wages but for the living wages that we all deserve. I am proud of the wins my union and I have achieved, but even with what feels like a success, what is happening in our state and country as a whole has me concerned about what else we will need to stand up against soon.
For me, fighting for what is right is in my blood. My father was a proud member of the International Brotherhood Boilermakers Union in Northeastern Pennsylvania. When he and his fellow union workers faced great injustice in the workplace, they took action and went on strike. Growing up watching my father and other family members use their voices and demand change to improve life for themselves and their families has inspired me to dedicate my time to being an activist in my community. I am also proud that I can stand as part of the LGBTQ+ community and show those in my union and my community that I am just like them, no matter who I love.
Now, I’m worried about my basic rights as a gay man. I was worried that the overturning of Roe v. Wade would be a warning sign, but Justice Thomas confirmed that for me when he said the Supreme Court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” Obergefell was the case that allowed gay marriage to be legal, and I would never want to see this right be taken away from myself or my friends in the LGBTQ+ community that I love.
The people dismantling these cases that are core to the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community are overwhelmingly Republicans, or Republican candidates for elected office. They are more focused on maintaining their power in office and on the Supreme Court than on what matters most: the safety and protection of all Americans.
Elections matter. Voting matters. That’s why I want to urge Pennsylvanians to vote this fall. Many Republicans want to turn the clock back and move further away from the progress we have made as a society.
Voting for and backing Democratic candidates like Josh Shapiro for governor and John Fetterman for U.S. Senate is essential to providing Pennsylvania an opportunity to further the progress so many activists have fought and died to accomplish. I am confident that Shapiro for governor and Fetterman for the U.S. Senate is what we need in Pennsylvania. They are union-strong candidates and longtime advocates of my LGBTQ+ community.
Pride month is a month to honor standing up for yourself, your community and your values. I look at this month as a time to remember all the people before me who fought for my right to love my partner. During this month, I also think about my dad, who stood up for Pennsylvania coal miners. I think about fellow labor union workers who stand up to corporations that want to underpay and mistreat us. I am scared as hell about what the future holds for us if radical and out-of-touch Republicans win the election this fall.
We have the power to decide who represents us at the federal and state levels of government. Those in office hold immense power, and it is up to us to choose who will maintain that power. The laws that protect people like me and my friends in the LGBTQ+ community, that protect the bodily autonomy of women, and that protect so many marginalized communities across the U.S. are unraveling before our eyes. Those in office hold immense power, and we must choose who will maintain that power.
It is up to us to take a stand and demand action.
By supporting strong candidates who uphold our ideals of freedom to live as our authentic selves and have autonomy over our bodies, the future for all Pennsylvania residents can be more safe and more just.
Remember, every vote counts, especially here in Pennsylvania. Ensure your voice is heard this election cycle and your hard-won rights are protected.
Ron Martin is a Pennsylvania native who works as an SEIU 32BJ security guard in Philadelphia.