When billboards went up in New York advertising Planned Parenthood services geared toward LGBT people, there was no shortage of controversy. While some believe the outreach is a smart move, especially given the discussion surrounding the longtime health organization’s funding (and a misconception that federal funding is applied to abortion services). But others – like one Republican senator – are concerned the billboards somehow support gay marriage, which is becoming much more of a reality in the Empire State.
The billboards, which say – “Someone you know is in love” – features two men embracing with a tagline that notes Planned Parenthood is “proudly serving the LGBT community.”
Planned Parenthood defends the billboards, explaining that they are meant to bring awareness to gay health issues in rural areas of the state where it may be lacking. But Senator Thomas O’Mara, who hails from Western New York, accuses the organization of using state funds to support marriage equality, an issue that has been picking up steam as more celebrity spokespeople and even the governor have pledged support for it (Gov. Cuomo says he’ll push for another vote in favor of same-sex marriage in New York in June), reports WETM.
Despite the latest controversy, the issue inspires a much deeper conversation about why an organization like Planned Parenthood speaks to LGBT people. While the assumption that the organization serves women is certainly accurate given the breadth of services offered – everything from breast exams and prenatal care – truth is the group serves many different patients at clinics throughout the country, patients who may not be able to afford to seek medical care any other way. And the efforts to showcase this in New York are notable considering the heat Planned Parenthood has faced this year amid threats of federal funding being cut by anti-abortion zealots (even though no funding on the federal level actually pays for these services).
For the LGBT community, this is a great opportunity to stand up for the rights of everyone who needs help navigating the sometimes confusing and expensive world of healthcare. The reality is that people who would be most impacted by these drastic cuts come from many different demographics – women, men and gay and straight. With more attention being paid to the group’s LGBT patients, perhaps it’s time for LGBT people to also stand up for Planned Parenthood.
Would you ever consider visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person?