Just one day following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, reaffirming the right and responsibility of every American to comprehensive healthcare, they have done it again! Following the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges America now joins a proud group of growing nations around the world that supports the right of same-sex couples to legally marry (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales), and Uruguay). The decision is a historic and celebratory one for gay rights activists and supporters who have fought against blatant discrimination, intimidation, court battles, and a deeply-rooted cultural and social traditional of anti-gay bigotry. It’s been a long, hard-fought battle and the reward couldn’t be any sweeter.
As hats are tossed and whistles blown, this is just one step forward along the long path to dignity, freedom, and protections for all. There is still much to be done. And as we celebrate this victory our eyes should now look onward towards tackling some of the battles the LGBT community still faces today:
Gay Conversion Therapy – To date, there are only three states (California, New Jersey, and Oregon) and Washington, D.C. that ban gay conversion therapy. And despite the fact that the American Psychological Association opposes the therapy as unethical and the United States Surgeon General David Satcher in 2001 issued a report stating that “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed”, gay conversion therapy it is still widely practiced and promoted as a cure for homosexuality.
Workplace and Housing Discrimination – There still aren’t any federal laws in place that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, public accommodations, or housing. While twenty-one states and Washington, DC have passed employment non-discrimination laws, there are still many states that legally allow a worker to fire an employee solely based on their orientation or identity. In recent years, many states that have fought against the tide of marriage equality and gay acceptance have enacted religious freedom laws that many critics have rightly denounced as veiled attempts to protect vendors who refuse to provide service to LGBT people.
Blood Donation – In wasn’t until May of this year that the United States Food and Drug Administration released a guidance recommending lifting the ban against gay and bisexual man from donating blood. Based on the inaccurate and biased view during the 1980s that only homosexuals could contract HIV, such a stigma needs to be lifted from the LGBT community.
These are not the only roadblocks that the LGBT community must deal with before being fully integrated as equal members into American society (homelessness, acceptance in popular culture and media, military service, foster care and adoption, and prison treatment and violence are only a number of issues that must be met head-on). But until that day comes, and it will, we must not wane in the fight for equality for all.