Still fighting for LGBT equality

by TRAVIS BRAASCH

In this decade, the gay rights movement has accomplished more than anyone could’ve thought possible during time of the senseless assassination of Harvey Milk in 1978 or during the start of the Stonewall riots in 1969.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage can no longer be prohibited by a state, marking one of the largest accomplishments of the LGBT movement.

However, like the Civil Rights Movement, the LGBT movement hasn’t reached the end of its journey and some of the hardest battles may still be ahead.

Much like the enacted Civil Rights Act of 1968, the gay marriage law is not being accepted by everyone just yet. Many still face the same type of discrimination that was around before the bill was passed. There have been many cases of gay couples being refused a marriage license despite the ruling.

For some reason, certain Americans are not willing to accept that two people of the same sex would want to have the same rights as straight couples do. In fact, it seems as time passes more and more social conservatives are fixated about the apparent scourge of homosexuality sweeping across the U.S. They sound like an anti-gay propaganda film from the 1960s.

Rather than focusing on newer, pressing issues such as the wave of murders committed by police officers or skyrocketing occurrences of school shootings, it seems that conservatives simply cannot get their minds off of strangers going to bed together in the privacy of their own homes.

This may be in part due to how the media can obsess over something and blow it completely out of proportion, whether it be liberal or conservative outlets. As soon as the ruling was handed down, FOX news began to declare the downfall of the United States.

As the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh stated on the day the bill passed, “That’s exactly what this day is about. The Constitution has been made to be everything about this. It has been corrupted.”

Yup, giving Americans the right to marry whoever they choose has “corrupted” the Constitution in the eyes of some conservatives.

This is ever more noticeable in Houston, Texas with the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance bill that would have protected LGBT members from discrimination at work and in public, as well as discrimination based on age, race, gender and many other areas where discrimination is still present.

The LGBT community simply wants the right to feel safe and protected equally, the same way as straight Americans. However, for some reason citizens seemed to have their heads in the toilet, focused on the fact that this bill would have allowed transgender individuals to use whichever bathroom they most identify. This would mean that women who have transitioned to men would be allowed to use the men’s bathrooms, and vice versa.

Immediate outcry was heard in the conservative state of Texas, and a successful fear driven campaign against the bill led to it being voted down by the voters. Many around the country wondered how this could happen in a liberal town like Houston.

The campaign against this bill used the same tactics that were used to keep gay Americans from adopting children and getting married in the 1970s. The opposition of the bill portrayed LGBT Americans as pedophile monsters who are out to hurt women and children.

Sadly, the LGBT community actually faces a higher number of sexual assaults than the straight community. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that 44 percent of lesbians are victims of sexual assault, rape, or stalking as opposed to 35 percent of heterosexual women. Additionally, 37 percent of bisexual men experience this compared to the 29 percent of heterosexual men.

However, other states that have passed bills to protect these rights have not experienced any higher rates of sex crimes or instances of sexual acts from its LGBT citizens. The only difference is that the LGBT community feels safer and can live happier lives.

Violence against those who identify as LGBT has been on the rise in 2015, up 13 percent from 2014, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. It is un-American to be treated poorly because of your sexual orientation, and there are some being murdered for it.

In the media, some LGBT individuals are being portrayed as child-hurting monsters which people should fear. When in reality, the LGBT community faces hate and violence everyday and is in need of protection in order to live safe lives.

Americans are obsessed with what their neighbors are doing and cannot simply mind their own business. Maybe, instead of trying to create a problem out of nothing, we can start to worry about the real problems our country seems to be ignoring.

The human race faces new troubles everyday, whether it’s a terrorist attack that kills Americans or that another teenager murdering his fellow classmates. It seems like now, more than ever, people should be coming together as a community instead of letting small differences tear us apart.

Braasch is an Aztec Press reporter and an activist for equal rights. He believes in a community that minds its own business. 

Filed Under: Opinion

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