As the push for same-sex marriage heads toward a national resolution in the U.S. Supreme Court, the blog Troublesome Remedies examines the question of where the LGBT rights movement should turn next:
- Fight discrimination within the LGBTQ community, especially against transgender people?
- Fight for anti-discrimination laws?
- Attack poverty and homelessness, especially among LGBTQ youth? (“While only five percent of youth identify as LGBTQ, 40 percent of all homeless youth do”)
- Improve health education, especially among black men? (New HIV infections are eight times higher among black men than white men.)
- Work for change in the 78 countries with laws against same-sex intimacy? (This blog’s focus.)
Here are excerpts from that commentary, “Marriage. Check. Now what?”:
The question of “what’s next for the gay movement?” is complicated, predicated on the competing interests of an increasingly diversifying LGBTQ constituency. Some question whether marriage was the correct focus in the first place, with many seeing the systematic discrimination against and societal discomfort with homosexuality of greater importance than a symbolic piece of paper. It is interesting to think that marriage, an institution overwhelmingly utilized by white, upper-income people, was the first to gain traction. To a homeless, HIV-positive black runaway, the freedom to marry is not likely one of his top priorities.
Like other minority groups, the LGBTQ community is fraught with internal politics and discrimination of its own. Trans individuals are often vocal in their feelings of marginalization within LGBTQ societies. 78 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander and nearly half of African-American LGBTQ people reported feeling discriminated against within the LGBTQ community.
Moving beyond racial discrimination, Andy Cohen, host of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens: Live,” recently drew flack after referring to the members of the One Direction band as a “twink,” slang for a young gay man that some have deemed an offensive and derogatory term. Later, a post on the gay blog site Americablog gained traction with the headline “Is ‘twink’ the new n-word?”
What’s unique about being LGBTQ is its intersectionality with various other political/social/cultural realities; being gay affects one’s racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, familial, gender, political, and health identity.
As a result, it has been hard for the community to convene on a single focus following marriage equality. Many point to anti-discrimination laws as the next legal battle. While 21 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation as a protected class with regard to discrimination, only 18 of those states offer the same protections to gender identity. Many more states, however, have yet to adopt any anti-discrimination policies. In states like Pennsylvania or Virginia, for example, same-sex couples can be legally married today, and legally fired tomorrow as a direct result of their homosexuality.
The Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employment and hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, passed the Senate in November 2013 but went nowhere in the House. With today’s Republican majority, the passage of any federal anti-discrimination laws is highly unlikely.
Some within the community want poverty and its association with homosexuality to be the next focus: while only five percent of youth identify as LGBTQ, 40 percent of all homeless youth do. Some want to address racial and public health concerns: new HIV infections are eight times higher among black men than white men. Some are more concerned about education: while same-sex marriage may be imminent, many states forbid the teaching of same-sex sex education in schools.
President Obama has a broader focus. Largely untouched by mainstream media outlets, Secretary of State John Kerry recently announced that the U.S. State Department will be appointing a special envoy specifically devoted to advocating for the rights of LGBTQ individuals internationally. And with about 78 countries explicitly outlawing homosexuality, the new diplomat will face quite a daunting task.
No one can, nor should anyone, deny the success of the gay marriage movement. But looking forward, the horizon is foggy. The LGBTQ movement has yet to unite around a single figure—there is no gay equivalent of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Cesar Chavez—nor should it be forced to do so. …
For more information, read the full commentary, “Marriage. Check. Now what?”
- 78 countries with laws against homosexual activity (76crimes.com)
- Strategy: Let’s stop simply preaching to the gay choir (76crimes.com)