Why I Didn’t Change My Profile Picture Today.

Via on Mar 26, 2013


In case you haven’t looked at the news (or Facebook) recently, today is a big day for marriage equality.

There was a time when I thought that since I was straight, marriage equality wasn’t my problem. Most of my gay friends weren’t at a point in life where they wanted to settle down and get married. It just wasn’t on my mind.

Time went on. And there came a point, I think it was when I realized a friend’s marriage was not going to be recognized due to Prop 8, that I realized what a big deal it was. It’s not a big deal “if you are gay.” It’s a big deal—for all of us.

Imagine for a minute that you love someone. You love him or her with your whole heart. And whatever you think about marriage—good, bad or indifferent—you love this person and want to be a family.

But it’s not legal. The government says it’s not okay for you to give your love fully and be a family.

It breaks my heart.

And I’ve written about this many times for elephant. It’s an important issue.

It’s so important that changing our profile pictures on Facebook and then moving on with our day is not enough.

Vote with your dollars. Stop supporting companies that don’t support marriage equality or offer benefits to all their families. And tell them why you’ve stopped supporting them!

Write to your congressmen and representatives. Write to our president:

Picture 7


Talk about it. Talk with your friends, your family, your children.

This isn’t about having special treatment. This is about being treated the same. We know better, so let’s do better. Don’t stop with changing your Facebook picture (though it’s been a beautiful sea of red and pink).

Be the change.

{Updated} Stand up so that everyone who loves can celebrate, just like elephant readers Lacey and Audra who were kind enough to share their celebration with us:

Lacey and Audra Wedding from Ben Poenisch on Vimeo.

Like equal rights for all on Facebook.

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter


36 Responses to “Why I Didn’t Change My Profile Picture Today.”

  1. JODY says:

    Thank you Kate.

  2. Joshua Plant JoshMPlant says:

    YESSSS!!! #equality

  3. Joshua Plant JoshMPlant says:

    Oh, and if Obama was serious, he would sign an executive order. This is a political game. When Washington speaks of these issues, they are not speaking about people, they are speaking about votes – how they can get re-elected. Human rights are irrelevant to politicians, and Obama is not an exception.

    • I completely agree. And it doesn't matter how many states pass marriage bills until it's federal law. How many people stay in one state their whole adult lives? It's rare anymore…except for you New Yorkers. :) I'm glad to hear him being vocal on the subject, but I'd rather see him act on his words.

    • Drew says:

      The President can't just sign an executive order and create a new law. That's not how it works at all.

    • Austin says:

      You're dumber than a sack of bricks. Ever heard of the 10th amendment? The feds can't do anything (constitutional) about marriage laws. It's up to the states. Get an education please.

      • Dear Austin,

        We ask our commenters to refrain from ad hominem attacks, i.e. calling a person "dumber than a sack of bricks" rather than disagreeing with his argument itself.

        And had you read through the comment thread, you'd realize that my friend Joshua is being a bit impassioned rather than asking for a specific actual action on Obama's part.

        Still, I disagree with you. I believe that ultimately something will need to be decided at the federal level because most adults don't remain in one state their whole lives. Without a federal guideline here, perhaps with different details at the state level, there is no way to adequately protect families rights, medical rights, property rights, end-of-life rights, etc. of gay couples.

      • Joshua Plant JoshMPlant says:

        Lol. You are correct, they cannot. But as it stands now, they do regulate marriage… A federal regulation called DOMA superficially addresses the government's interest in "marriage" and maintaining the continuity of christian values in a "nation founded on those principles". And do not forget, if a state law does not touch on a specific state's right, they can default to an umbrella from the fed – that is their right, too. What happens when some states extend civil rights to everyone and others do not? They follow the fed until they can write a proper resolution.

        And every president has the ability to sign a measure into law via executive order, even if it is just and injunction or a target date expiration regulatory measure to control any number of things. Of course, changing laws without congressional approval is naughty, but it is rarely frowned upon by much of congress because it benefits their interests. I urge you to ask a constitutional scholar about marriage and the US Government, they will tell you that DOMA is unconstitutional and therefore can be overturned by the sitting President.

        And finally, a box of bricks or not. The states do not have the right under the constitution, the principles of democracy, and the bill of rights to create a second class citizen — please review the myriad of Civil Rights Acts that have been passed since 1875 (that is 138 years of evidence against your argument, on this particular matter).

        I am sure you know that the federal government still considered blacks property by default, by allowing the states to legislate that one cannot marry property, that is to say, Caucasians could not legally marry a black citizen. It wasn't until 1967 that the Federal government outlawed all racially segregating laws, regardless of the "state's rights."

        The LGBTs of America are facing what Justice Thomas once faced: some states we have some rights, but never do we get all of them, and in more "conservative" states we are second class citizens. One would think that this fact would awaken anyone to the injustice in this country.

        The case law is all there, just read up.

        Some addition reading for you:

        • For more than seventy years, Presidents have issued executive orders requiring workplace protections from discrimination, including employees of federal contractors. These orders have not been overturned by courts, Congress, or subsequent Presidents.
        • A federal executive order that requires contractors to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would protect up to 16.5 million more workers.
        • More than ninety percent of the country’s largest companies, including federal contractors, state that diversity policies are good for their corporate bottom line.
        • Among the top 50 federal contractors, 81% include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies and 44% include gender identity.
        • Among the largest private defense contractors, state laws or private policies already cover 95% of employees against sexual orientation discrimination, 69% of employees against gender identity discrimination.
        • Ordinances that require city and county contractors to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination do not burden governments or businesses.
        • As recently as 2008, the GSS, a national probability survey representative of the U.S. population, found that 27% of LGB respondents had experienced at least one form of sexual orientation-based discrimination during the five years prior to the survey.
        • When surveyed separately, transgender respondents report even higher rates of employment discrimination and harassment than LGB people. In a 2011 survey, 78% of respondents in the largest survey of transgender people to date reported experiencing at least one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity.

        Executive orders requiring discrimination protections for employees of federal contractors have not been overturned by courts, Congress, or subsequent Presidents

  4. SaraCrolick says:

    Thank you, Kate.. and thank you Lacy and Audra for sharing your beautiful day with us.

  5. Sara Lingafelter Sara says:

    This is only the first time, ever, that I *have* changed my profile photo for a cause… a cause that was part of why I decided to go to law school; a cause that I worked on as a young associate; and a cause that drew me to the phone banks in Washington last November where I had the pleasure of talking to my neighbors about marriage equality, and the positive conversations outweighed the negative. Change of profile photo or not, there is so much to do. Solidarity today, and until the day that marriage equality is actually achieved.

    The fight continues.

  6. cynthiabeard says:

    Thanks for sharing this perspective. I chose not to change my profile pic today, for other reasons. I completely support marriage equality, and I've even contributed to the Human Rights Campaign in the past. But…I've also had friends express concerns about the HRC's privileging of certain subsets within the LGBTQI community over others. Some trans friends, in particular, have felt marginalized by the HRC. So I've been conflicted today. I am so proud of my friends who are speaking out and visibly changing the way Facebook looks today. But instead of following suit, I chose to post other images (one that speaks directly to being a straight ally) and news stories (i.e., homelessness among LGBTQI teens who have been kicked out of their homes). The latter issue in particular (homeless youth and poverty) isn't addressed at all by these pending Supreme Court cases.

    • crimsunkg says:

      I, too, chose not to change my profile photo for very similar reasons (namely, HRC's hawing on trans issues is severely aggravating), so while I beam alongside those speaking out and making such a change on fb, I am forever aware of how much work remains – work done by many not able to change profile photos on fb.

  7. Gerry Ellen Gerry Ellen says:

    I, too, didn't change my FB profile pic-mainly because there is more that needs to be done. The support is valid with the sea of red and pink colors all over FB, but voices being heard goes way beyond a photo. My passions lie in many issues beyond gay marriage. The whole Monsanto thing is making me sick, the war on wolves is beyond comprehension, and then there's the gun control issue. I have a gay brother, who has been in a loving domestic partnership with a man for 25 years. They are my heroes. They didn't even change their profile pic today, yet they are actively doing work for gay and lesbian rights and marriage equality. What I feel is so cool about the support today is the collective consciousness that goes into a movement like this. It takes a village to make a change, and seeing everyone's wall explode with red and pink profile pics is so awesome. So, let's hope Obama vetoes the Monsanto Act, the Supreme Court repeals Prop. 8 in California, and people get more educated about wolves and their existence in our world. Ignorance on all the above only breeds more fear. And, we just need to embrace love and harmony all the way around!! (Big Full Moon too!!)

  8. abigail says:

    Love is beautiful. Doesn't matter who is doing the loving.

  9. There is a little bit of crazy in this blog post and most of the comments:
    Kate Bartolotta writes about "Why I Didn’t Change My Profile Picture Today" while simultaneously saying "though it’s been a beautiful sea of red and pink".
    cynthiabeard says, "I chose not to change my profile pic today, for other reasons." and "I am so proud of my friends who are speaking out and visibly changing the way Facebook looks today."
    crimsunkg says: "I, too, chose not to change my profile photo" and "while I beam alongside those speaking out and making such a change on fb"
    Gerry Ellen says, "I, too, didn't change my FB profile pic-mainly because there is more that needs to be done." and "It takes a village to make a change, and seeing everyone's wall explode with red and pink profile pics is so awesome."

    • I get you. I titled it that way to be a provocative. I think the issue is this: it's wonderful to show our visible support (I love it. I often do that type of thing.) but it's important not to stop there. It's great to see the support, but it also made me wonder how many of the people what changed their profile pics are also doing more than that. And many are, which is wonderful!

  10. TupacRIP says:


    • paul says:

      http://25.media.tumblr.com/d0e96909ddd6f0f397b400… or http://www.alma-tadema.org/Spring-detail.jpg are some images you might use if you don't support this madness, and madness it is: the HRC is a corporate non-profit and not for human rights (or it would be for civil unions across the board and for leaving of marriage to the church and home; marriage shouldn't be at the government's discretion), but for acceptance of homosexuality. Those who think otherwise have bought the line that one's sexual orientation makes a difference to a person's world-view, when it is how the culture treats a person that does so.

  11. gregcatcat says:

    I'm a gay male in my 60s, in a committed relationship for over 30 years. I don't give a rip about marriage as a sentimental or symbolic ritual, but I would sure like federally mandated civil union to go forward, so that we can visit each other in the hospital without a POA, so that whoever survives can continue to receive the other's social security and other benefits, to be free of inheritance tax on the other's estate, to be protected from predatory parents or siblings of our deceased partner's estate–the rights that straight couples have. We've pooled our resources financially and otherwise for 30 years–do we have to create ourselves an LLC to get the same rights as married couples?

    • That's one of the things that to me makes it most necessary to have a federal statute here, as well as medical benefits and custody issues for gay couples with children.

  12. adrianresajones says:

    Yes – changing your profile picture will not change anything for gay marriage but it does make my gay & lesbian friends feel the mad love & support from their straight allies.

  13. amanda says:

    I think a boycott is a great idea – can anyone post a link. I'd rather share that on FB to be more proactive than just changing profile pic.

  14. katherine says:

    it would be nice to know what companies should be avoided. A link to those companies would have been helpful in the article.

  15. abbie says:

    There is much more to be done, but I changed my profile picture too. I don't expect that my profile picture will make the Supreme Court decide a certain way, or get my congressional representatives to do anything. But I have a wide range of acquaintances and friends on facebook, from relatives I don't see often to people I see every day, from my dear friends to girls I mentored in a summer program. Maybe one of them is struggling with their sexuality, and even my out friends expressed their happiness that they know so many people stand with them. When facebook is used by so many young people, and suicide is still such a difficult issue for young queer people, I felt it was important for them to see that there were people who supported them–hopefully a lot of people, but at least me.

  16. Carolyn Riker Carolyn Riker says:

    Made this our dinner conversation last night with my two teens. Really good! Thanks.

  17. Zuzzie K says:

    Companies that DO support same-sex marriage are for example Google, Microsoft, Citigroup, Apple, Nike, Facebook and Starbucks

  18. Zuzzie K says:

    RE: "Write to our president, who made me pretty proud today"

    The Monsanto Protection Act is yet another reminder that no matter how convincing politicians may appear on the campaign trail (ex. Obama's promise to label GMOs before getting elected), they certainly have a personal agenda that doesn't align with the best interest of the people. Money, greed, corporations take a precedence over human rights, so please stop being so gullible when you hear or see statements even if they come straight out of the politician's mouth, because it means NOTHING, zero meaning, only brainwash, distractions while in the background the personal agenda is being ambitiously pursued.

  19. jim fry says:


    Thank you for your wicked perceptions, though my take has a different angle.

    It took me awhile to catch onto the new avatar / profile image meaning as I was busy with life outside the cyber realm. As soon as I returned some focus and saw the various reactions, on both sides, this flowed out:

    "I don't mean to be insensitive, though I may come across that way.

    As long as you care about the Supreme Court's decisions (manipulations) and permit the government to continue to legislate your life, and lifestyle, you will remain dis-empowered. That is a Victim Stance.

    I'd suggest:

    Check out of the Banking.Investment.Complex
    Check out of the Government.Subsidy.Complex
    Check out of the Medical.Pharmaceutical.Complex
    Check out of the Educational.Indoctrination.Complex

    Once you seek nothing from the government, it is much easier to ignore their manipulative tendencies. Dealing with Petty Tyrants is really a no-win scenario."

    So, it remains to be seen … the only path I am aware of towards empowerment is to cease being dis-empowered. Different for each, yet with some common themes and threads …


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