Friday, April 03, 2015
The video above from Vox explains the USA’s patchwork of laws dealing with the civil and human rights of LGBT people. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen—simple, clear, and pretty darn thorough. It’s well worth a watch.
The current situation in the USA is truly bizarre. In many US states, a gay couple might get married, then be refused a hotel room on their wedding night. Or, they might be refused a rental apartment or house. One or both of them could be fired (the Catholic Church routinely fires employees who marry someone of the same gender, for example).
This is why marriage equality, important as it is, isn't the end of the line for LGBT people. Until and unless our rights to employment, housing, and public accommodation are protected, we aren’t truly fully equal citizens.
Libertarian types oppose all civil rights laws, but even more mainstream conservatives (and some moderates) don’t believe that protecting the rights of LGBT people is necessary. Partly, this is because of the myth that gay people “choose” to be gay, or that we are defined only by “behaviour” (and, strangely, our “behaviour” never includes working and paying taxes…). But when people believe myths about us or reduce us to being nothing more than genitals in search of similar genitals, then it’s easy to see how their prejudice against us blinds them to the very real discrimination we face every day as people, and so, they dismiss the need for legal protections.
But if the experiences of adults aren't enough to convince some people, they should consider the plight of LGBT youth: LGBT youth make up an estimated 40% of homeless youth in the USA, and are four times more likely to attempt suicide than are heterosexual youth. They’re 5 times more likely to miss school, probably because 9 in 10 of them have experienced bullying in school. Clearly society has far bigger problems than bigots not wanting to bake wedding cakes for us.
Because of the patchwork of laws protecting the civil and human rights of LGBT people, and because of often hidden prejudice against us, LGBT people have to make decisions many times every single day about how “out” to be. We know that at any given moment we might face discrimination—or even violence—so we have to weigh our humanity against our safety and even our very lives. Every single day.
So, when someone says that the civil and human rights of LGBT people don’t need protecting, what they’re really saying is that they’re okay with all we have to face, the threat of violence, the misery too many LGBT youth have to endure, the loss of employment or housing, sure, but also the rejection of our basic humanity. I’m not okay with that and, I’m pleased to say, neither are ANY of the people I know in real life.
The video above highlights the patchwork of protections for LGBT people in the USA better than any video I’ve seen. But I’m still working for the day when such explanations aren’t necessary because the patchwork has been fixed.
Vox published this on their site, which has more information about the issues the video raises.