By Alex Temblador
The LGBT Rights movement in the United States does not end with marriage equality. Rather, there are a multitude of equality issues that the LGBT rights movement will focus on. The road is a long one but we’ve already accomplished so much. Legalizing same-sex marriage is not something that should be diminished, rather it should be celebrated because it’s the first win on our campaign for full equality for the LGBT community.
Protection for LGBT persons against discrimination in housing and employment will most likely be the next major issue that the LGBT rights movement focuses on.
Here is how anti-discrimination laws in the United States look for the LGBT community:
- 21 states do not offer LGBT any protection in the workplace.
- 240 local anti-discrimination employment/housing laws.
- 18 states have anti-discrimination employment laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity for all residents of the state.
- 5 states protect LGBT employees who work for the state but does not protect those who don’t.
- 3 states ban discrimination against LGB employees but does not protect transgender employees.
- 2 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (no protection for gender identity).
- 1 state bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but only protects transgender state employees.
- 90% of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- 22 states have some form of anti-discrimination housing laws for sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
By passing anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity, it would be the right step in recognizing the LGBT community and their families as equal citizens.
Violence toward LGBT People
Hate crimes against the LGBT community is a real reality. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation were the second highest of hate crimes in 2014 according to the FBI. To be specific, 20.8% of 5,922 hate crimes were sexual orientation hate crimes. As of June 2015, nine trans women have already been murdered in the U.S. and twelve murders occurred in 2014 (however these numbers are probably lower than reported).
Violence toward LGBT persons hasn’t gone away. Without laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination or recognize them as equal citizens to the rest of the nation, these numbers may continue to grow and continues to put a large community at risk.
55% of gay and lesbian people and 70% of transgender persons have experienced health discrimination or were given less than suitable medical care due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. These statistics tell us that people in the LGBT community aren’t receiving the same health care needs that other citizens in the U.S. are receiving.
In addition, gay conversion therapy still has not been fully outlawed across the country. Only three states prohibit it! Rather than being provided positive mental health services, some places are telling LGBT persons and youth that who they are is a mental disorder and are convincing them that therapy can make them heterosexual.
Recently, the ban on gay men donating blood was repealed but a discriminatory measure still remains: they are only allowed to donate after a year of not having sex with other men.
Above standard health care should be a fundamental right for every American and until public policies are made or changed, the LGBT community will continue to suffer.
Ban on Transgender Open Military Service
In 2010, President Barack Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which ended a long practice of requiring gay service members to serve silently and refrain from sharing their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” did not extend to transgender military service men and women, and as of now, transgender persons are unable to serve openly in the military service.
There is an estimated number of 15,000 transgender Americans serving in the military and those service members are unable to serve openly as trans. Recently, there has been a change in this policy in the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Army with “the level of the commander able to decide whether an active-duty service member should discharged for being transgender” has been elevated. This lowers the likelihood that someone who is trans will be discharged for their gender identity. Many see this as a sign that the ban will soon be repealed, but until then, trans Americans who lay their life on the line for their country are not being treated equally.
Many Americans would say that family values is an important aspect of this country, but the sad truth is that there are laws that prevent LGBT couples from joint adoption or LGBT individuals from adopting children and starting their own family.
LGBT couples in Mississippi and Missouri are unable to joint adopt. If you’ve been watching the news, you may have noticed that Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed a law that allows adoption agencies to deny adoptions to same-sex couples if it goes against the adoption agencies’ religious beliefs. Laws like these make it difficult for LGBT couples to adopt in their own states and leave many children without parents and families.
LGBT Youth: Bullying, Suicide, Homelessness, School Discrimination, etc.
LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth, and questioning youth—three times more likely. One quarter of all transgender youth have attempted suicide.
In addition to this, 40% of all homeless youth are LGBT. LGBT youth also experience very high rates of bullying at school, sexual assault, and many times school officials do not offer sufficient protection for these kids or discriminate against these children themselves. Transgender youth experience other (sometimes worse) forms of discrimination like being unable to use the bathroom that reflects their gender identity.
It is extremely important that the LGBT rights movement fight for LGBT youth and their rights because without them, the LGBT rights movement will not have a future.
As you can see there are many things that the LGBT rights movement should strive to achieve now that same-sex marriage has been legalized. In addition to these, there are many other things that the LGBT rights movement will need to battle as well: LGBT immigration reform, LGBT prison reform, LGBT sex education reform, gender neutral bathrooms, laws that criminalize people with HIV, allowing gender identity changes on drivers licenses, birth certificates, and passports, and many more.
Love won recently and was celebrated with the hashtage: #Lovewins. But now we have a new fight, a new hashtag to strive for. One day I hope to be able to see a new hashtag all over social media. I hope to see beautiful celebratory pictures posted with it. One day I hope to write: #EqualityWins.
Photo by Distelfliege