UPDATE: The #OurTurnNow campaign inspired youth and their allies across the country to declare their support for marriage equality. In two short weeks Abby's vision galvanized youth and their families to post many photos in solidarity. While #OurTurnNow has officially concluded, the highlights remain at OurTurnNow.org for viewing.
Abby Hasting-Tharp is on a mission. Not your ordinary mission for a 12 year old, but one she hopes will give voice to the importance of marriage equality to today’s youth. “I have two moms and this issue is near and dear to our family's heart,” she says. “I began attending Valentine's Day marriage equality actions while in my mom's womb. With the Supreme Court case coming up, I want to make sure youth voices are heard. Our voices matter.”
An admirer of holocaust victim Anne Frank, Abby fondly quotes Frank’s widely read World War II time diary, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Taking this to heart, Abby has corralled a group of her peers to publish their marriage equality opinions on social media.
“I have always wanted to make a difference. I invited one of my friends to hear my mom speak at church about our family's involvement in the marriage equality movement in California, Utah and nationwide,” she says. “We then spoke with our friends and collaborated to come up with the idea of sending Valentine’s Day cards to the U.S. Supreme Court Justices, asking them to take a stand on the side of love. Then we realized they are not our audience, the court of public opinion is. We had a strategic slumber party/meeting and brainstormed other ideas together. My friends, Alika Wolf, Kat Carter and Katie Snyder are all in the 6th grade. They have always been very supportive of me and enthusiastic about my marriage equality work. It means a lot to me that they want to get involved too.”
“From this [the slumber party/meeting] came many ideas,” says Abby. “My mom helped us contact [MEUSA Executive Director] Brian Silva and he guided us in making our action as effective as possible. He knew what we wanted — a revolution where youth voices matter.”
Abby’s quest originates from her own experiences with marriage equality as the daughter of two moms, Jamila Tharp and Michelle Hasting. “When we received federal rights and, later, state rights and full protection under the law, it gave me a sense of security, knowing we as a family were safer. My friends didn't treat me any differently once we received those rights and protections. They just congratulated my family and celebrated with us. Socially, though, I felt better about my brothers' and my family being as important as any other family. I really feel good about this for my little brothers.”
The going has not always been easy for Abby. “There have been many difficulties that I've faced for getting into activism and for simply having two moms. When we lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, I was shunned by all my classmates until I transferred to a private school two months into the third grade. For this particular project, my friends and I have also faced our share of problems. When we sought permission from our principal to do some educational outreach in our school about marriage equality, she was at first very supportive. Yet, after only a few days of beginning our educational outreach at our school, taunting, false rumors, and heated arguments of all kinds began flaring and our principal decided that our peers were not mature enough to handle such a powerful topic. She put a stop to our educational outreach. We still receive snide comments from some students about being 'The Lesbian Club' from time to time but we brush it off. We aren't going to let a few people ruin something this important to us.”
The girls are using the hashtag #OurTurnNow for their youth campaign.
All photos courtesy of Abby's mom Jamila Tharp. First photo is Abby at home with her #OurTurnNow sign. Second photo is Abby and her organizing friends, left-to-right: Kat Carter, Abigail Hasting-Tharp, Alika Wolf and Katie Snyder. Third photo, Abby and her family.