After marriage, where from here?
Updated: July 3, 2015 at 9:57 am
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The Supreme Court’s decision opening marriage equality to all 50 states was met with jubilation among LGBT people across the nation and world. A long fought legal, activist and political battle led ultimately to a national ruling, putting to bed a debate over LGBT marriage recognition begun nearly 50 years ago.
But even as adulation and praise rang loud from parties, Pride events and other celebrations, calls for continued movement in LGBT equality could also be heard.
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As other groups focused on the marriage victory, LGBT activist group GetEqual took the immediate opportunity to address other issues unaddressed by the June 26 decision.
“We can’t let this moment distract from the very real violence that LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ people of color and black people, are facing,” GetEqual Co-Director Angela Peoples said in a statement. “As people gather in Charleston right now to mourn the lives of those murdered by a white supremacist gunman, we know the struggle for liberation is an urgent one — for LGBTQ people, black people and people of color, people living below the poverty line, and anyone experiencing violence and discrimination. The work of the movement is far from over.”
Other groups issued similar remarks, too, even as they celebrated. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin pointed to employment and housing protections.
“The time has come in this country for comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination protections,” Griffin said.
At home, Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro said the movement could not end.
“Even as we celebrate, we know our progress does not and will not end at the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement. “Same-sex couples can legally marry in North Carolina — and the very same day, be denied public services, fired from their job or denied housing simply because of who they are.”
In Charlotte, Scott Bishop, a member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors, stressed that community members must continue their advocacy for equality.
“This is the end of this battle for marriage equality, but there is so much more to do,” Bishop said at a June 26 event at Plaza Midwood’s Pizza Peel celebrating the marriage decision. “Celebrate this evening and know that we have to fight…for employment rights, housing rights, public accommodations rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgender community.”
Matt Hirschy, a Charlotte-based staffer for Equality North Carolina, echoed Bishop’s remarks to those gathered at the party.
“At the end of the day, this work is far from over,” Hirschy said. “There are transgender women of color being killed every day in the streets. There is a lack of police accountability in this country. There is a lack of employment protections across this country for people who identify as LGBT, and that’s only a handful of the things we have to get done.”
Everyone agrees: there’s much more work to do. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the agenda items movement leaders will be tackling next:
Employment: Only 19 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico protect LGBT people from discrimination in all employment, public and private. Several others offer protections on the basis of sexual orientation only or prohibit discrimination in public employment. North Carolina offers no employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, though several municipal and county governments protect their workers.
Housing: Only 19 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing, though federal housing guidelines require all providers receiving HUD funding not to discriminate. North Carolina does not protect LGBT residents in matters of housing.
Hate Crimes: Only 16 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico include sexual orientation and gender identity in hate crimes legislation. Fourteen others recognize only sexual orientation. Federal law includes both. North Carolina’s hate crimes statute includes neither.
Trans Military Service: Though the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S. Armed Forces was repealed in 2010, it did not affect another ban on open transgender military service. Advocates want the military to drop regulations that treat being transgender as a medically disqualifying condition.
Transgender Inclusion: Efforts to protect LGB community members, as well as their social inclusion, have taken giant leaps forward, but transgender community members continue to face highly disproportionate discrimination and mistreatment, both within and outside of the LGBT community.
Intersectional social justice issues: Some advocates, like those with GetEqual, want national, regional and local movement organizations to take a broader view of LGBT equality in partnership and collaboration with other minority communities. They think greater focus should be placed on intersectional work with people of color, immigrants and those economically disadvantaged, among others. Since these people and others are also represented among the LGBT community, advocates argue, these issues are also important for LGBT movement leaders to address. Among several correlations are: increased mental health and physical health disparities among LGBT people and other minorities, increased risk of poor academic performance and entry into the “school to prison pipeline” among LGBT people and other minorities and increased socioeconomic difficulties experienced by both LGBT people and other minorities. : :
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About the author: Matt Comer was the editor of QNotes, first hired to serve in the role in October 2007, with his tenure ending August 23, 2015.