Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely noticed an increasing number of stories in the media about LGBT rights in one vein or another. Whether it’s the looming US Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, the backlash in Indiana over the passage of a “religious freedom” act, or Bruce Jenner’s announcement, LGBT America and its cause is increasingly entering the media spotlight, for better or for worse.
Not surprisingly, there is debate and contention within the community about rights, although most agree that marriage equality is essentially a done deal. Barring a surprise from the US Supreme Court, which is largely expected to rule that there is a constitutional right to marriage for LGBT Americans, marriage equality will essentially be “won”. If you don’t believe me, you only need look at opinion polls. In fact, the good people at Gallup just released a public opinion poll (see below) indicating that support for marriage equality, which has steadily been gaining ground, is now at an all-time high.
But the debate in the community isn’t about whether marriage equality will be had, but whether marriage equality was the “best right” to fight for in the first place. Some within the community feel that marriage equality is the end all and be all of rights. Sadly they remain misguided, for while gays and lesbians may soon be able to marry in every state, they can just as easily be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment in the vast majority of states (see below) The federal government still has not passed an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity.
It’s clear that the fight for LGBT equality is no where close to being over and that it does not end with marriage equality. There is cause for hope though. Certainly, the backlash in Indiana and the resultant “fix” to the state’s Religious Freedom law was not only from the LGBT community but also from business leaders and other allies fighting against discrimination. Utah – yes Utah – passed an anti-discrimination bill in March that was actually backed by the Mormon Church. Just this week, Oregon became the third state to ban gay-conversion therapy. And California Representative Ted Lieu also introduced a bill in Congress to end the practice of gay conversion therapy across the country.
But we as a community would be remiss to think that the fight ends with marriage. As Michelangelo Signorile has pointed out (and aptly named his newest book), it’s not over. And even before marriage equality becomes the law of the land, we should be asking ourselves… what’s next?