Given the fact that October is LGBT History Month, I think that it is both important and appropriate to dedicate a blog post during the month to the topic of LGBTQ+ issues.
In particular, I want to use this post as a warning against viewing LGBTQ+ history in the way that many of us view the civil rights movement for African Americans: ending with one or two major events.
In history classes, the African American civil rights movement is often taught as having ended decades ago, with legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is the case, even though many civil rights problems still remain in 2017.
I fear that many of us in future generations will view the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in a similar way: ending with one or two major events. The only difference is that instead of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act with African American civil rights, we have the allowance of same-sex marriage in all fifty states and the lifting of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” with LGBTQ+ rights.
The problem, however, is that there are many LGBTQ+ civil rights which should exist but don’t. Here are a few examples:
- Most states have no laws regarding discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Most states do not prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Many states do not address hate crimes that are on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Most states do not prohibit discrimination at public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
I can add many other things to the list, but the point of having this list is to show that the LGBTQ+ rights movement should not be viewed as ending just because the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal. That was one step in the process for securing LGBTQ+ rights, but it is by no means the only step or the last step.
If people view the decision to legalize same-sex marriage as the last or only step in achieving LGBTQ+ civil rights, then issues such as the ones I mention above will continue to exist for decades to come. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.
Here is a map showing states and where they stand on a variety of LGBTQ+ issues—this map from the Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org/state-maps