With June 2015’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, millions of Americans can finally have their love federally recognized and seen as equal to that of their straight counterparts.
It’s a win for the LGBT community and points to a larger global shift in attitude toward LGBT issues. But it’s also important to note that this victory doesn’t mean we’ve won full equality.
The Human Rights Campaign has been a leader in the fight for marriage equality in America, raising tons of awareness and spending millions of dollars for the cause.
In a blog post, the HRC pointed to Australia as “the next country with an opportunity to approve nationwide marriage equality,” and announced their intentions to aid the country in following in the steps of the twenty-four other nations that have legalized same-sex marriage.
There’s precedence for vital, local LGBT resource centers shuttering their doors after same-sex marriage legislation is won, and it’s imperative that public attitudes don’t similarly falter. This is why pressure to continue the fight must be put on organizations, like the HRC, that carry an immense amount of clout.
Here are four things the HRC, and the LGBT community as a whole, should double-down on, before moving on to another marriage equality battle overseas:
1. Workplace discrimination: On July 1, employees of federal contractors and the federal government officially gained protection against being fired or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, thanks to an order signed by President Barack Obama.
However, workplace discrimination is still legal in twenty-nine out of fifty states, and employees in the private sector are still subject to the unregulated whim of employers. Studies find that LGBT people earn less than their straight counterparts and are more likely to live in poverty, making viable, protected employment more important than ever.
2. Homeless LGBT youth: Over 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, with family rejection and abuse cited as top contributors. It’s been speculated that spikes in homelessness amongst LGBT youth occur when same-sex marriage legislation is passed due to a saturation of coverage and a sense of progression and excitement prompting youth to come out to families who may or may not be accepting of them. Miley Cyrus is doing her part; maybe we should all follow in her footsteps.
3. Hate crime laws: While most LGBT individuals today enjoy much more acceptance in society than they might have just a couple of decades ago, queer people still face a disproportionate amount of violence. More than twenty percent of hate crimes reported in 2013 were motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity.
4. LGBT immigrants: Fresh off the heels of Jennicet Gutiérrez’s headline-grabbing moment at the White House, now would be the perfect time for the LGBT community to rally around queer immigrants who are helpless to stop the torture and rape they face in US detention centers. Issues surrounding access to medical services for HIV+ individuals and asylum seekers make this an even more complex issue deserving of our time and passion.