Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriage Equality is Here but there is still more to do

Our legal wedding in 2008 is now valid in all 50 states.
Last Friday was the 10-year anniversary of our religious, Jewish wedding. (See previous entry.) This Friday marks the Supreme Court decision making marriage equality the law in all 50 states.  Our marriage is now legal in all 50 states!

As we celebrate this momentous win, let’s not forget there are still many issues and struggles that the LGBT community still faces today in the United States.

* LGBT individuals can still be fired, simply for being who they are. Yes, you can be married on Sunday and fired for being gay on Monday. There is no federal law protecting LGBT workers against discrimination based on their sexual orientation. And while some states and cities have passed their own protections, there are still 29 states where you can actually be fired for being gay, leaving more than half of all total workers vulnerable to employment discrimination. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which was first introduced in 1994, passed in the Senate in 2014 but has since stalled in the House because of arguments around religious exemptions.

* Sexual orientation and gender identity still aren't protected under the hate crime statutes of more than 20 states. In many places it is not a hate crime to beat up a queer.

* LGBT individuals are still denied basic public accommodations because of their sexuality or gender identity. Twenty-nine states have no laws protecting queer people from being denied basic accommodations, like getting admission into a movie theater or even ordering customized baked goods.

* As of April 2014, 17 states either have not yet formally repealed their laws against sexual activity among consenting adult, or have not revised them to accurately reflect their true scope in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. 14 states purport to ban all forms of sodomy, some including oral sex, regardless of the participants' genders: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah. Four states specifically target their statutes at same-sex relations only: Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas.

* Sexually active gay men are still banned from donating blood. This outdated policy is both homophobic and life-threatening.

* Same-sex parents struggle for the custody rights that heterosexuals are automatically granted. Most states still don't allow a second spouse in a same-sex couple to gain legal recognition as a child's parent and guardian, creating a second-class legal status for that excluded parent and the entire family.

* LGBT Youth Homelessness: Up to 40% of homeless youth are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Queer youth homelessness is often caused by homophobia. Many teens have positive, supportive coming out experiences, and families who provide unconditional love. However, in far too many cases, teens that come out are explicitly told they are no longer welcome at home. For others, living at home becomes so unbearable that leaving may seem like the safest option.

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