Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Challenges That Remain After Marriage Equality

Living in a state like Virginia it is easy to be reminded that winning marriage equality was anything but the last battle in the struggle for legal equality for LGBT individuals.  In Virginia and many other states, members of the LGBT community can be fired at will with zero state law protections, we can be discriminated against at will in housing, and we daily see Republican political whores of the Christofascists (in Virginia its usually The Family Foundation that pulls the GOP puppet strings) ranting about the need to protect "religious freedom" which translates into special rights for Christofascists and a license for them to discriminate however they want as long as they dress their bigotry in smoke screen of religious belief.  A main editorial in the New York Times looks at all the issues that have yet to be resolved.  Here are highlights:
It’s tempting to regard last month’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage as the coda of the gay rights movement.

Yet the marriage equality victory should not be regarded as the final battle, or even a clear sign that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are on the cusp of enjoying full equality under the law. They are not.

Discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation remains an everyday challenge in many parts of the country. Currently, 31 states lack comprehensive laws that protect gay and transgender Americans from being fired, evicted or denied lines of credit.

Last week, lawmakers in the House and the Senate introduced the Equality Act, a bill that would broaden legal protections by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to explicitly cover sexual orientation and gender identity. 

While federal courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have found that gay and transgender workers are protected under federal law, the bill would offer an important layer of protection in the workplace and beyond. Many Americans still worry that being out to colleagues and bosses could jeopardize their job security or career advancement.

The law would protect transgender students who are waging humiliating battles against school systems that have allowed hysteria to dictate policies on the use of public restrooms. It would make it harder for landlords to turn down prospective tenants who are gender nonconforming. To those who live in the country’s large, liberal cities, these scenarios might seem like aberrations. In much of the country, though, they are an everyday reality for thousands of Americans.

The Democratic lawmakers sponsoring the Equality Act realize the bill might have little chance of passing while both chambers of Congress are controlled by Republicans. (It was introduced with no Republican backers.) It is nonetheless a worthy piece of legislation that establishes what more is needed to ensure full equal rights.

Today, a broad majority of Americans support protecting gay and transgender workers from employment discrimination. Nearly two-thirds of likely Republican voters and 90 percent of Democrats recently told pollsters that they support such protection. There is every reason, moral and political, to be on the right side of this issue.

But, of course, GOP elected officials are not on the right side of the issue.  They still support hate and bigotry  as they pander for the votes of the Christofascists who have no place in polite and decent society. 

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