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GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL, BUT…

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In a long-sought and momentous ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled for marriage equality in all 50 states. However, the fight is not over. The right to marry the person you love is only one right. There are many rights that the LGBT community is still denied or does not possess at this time. Here are the 9 things that the LGBT community still cannot do.

Have Workplace Protection

The LGBT community is not protected against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector. The proposed bill of Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA, would put an end to this and provide everyone in the country with equal employment rights, regardless of sexual orientation.[1]However, this bill has been proposed in every single session of Congress since 1994 and it has still not passed. In 29 states, there is no state-level protection for sexual orientation. In 33 states, there is no state-level protection for gender identity.[2]

Have Equal Access to Public Accommodations

As of May 15, 2014, twenty-nine states have no laws protecting the LGBT community from being denied basic accommodations.[3]Public accommodation non-discrimination laws protect LGBT people from being unfairly refused service or entry to, or from facing discrimination in, places accessible to the public. Public accommodations laws generally cover anywhere someone is when they are not at home, work, or school, including retail stores, restaurants, parks, hotels, doctors’ offices, and banks.

Have Equal Access to Housing

There are no housing non-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation or gender in 28 states. This can lead to members of the LGBT community being unfairly evicted, denied housing, or refused the ability to rent or buy housing.[4]

Donate Blood

In the 1980s, during the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) instituted a lifetime ban on blood bank donation for men who have sex with men. Even one man-on-man sexual encounter merits the exclusion, based on the mandatory questionnaire intake workers complete for each donor.[5]

Adopt

There is no scientific evidence that supports the ban some states have on same-sex adoption. There are many studies that show that same-sex parents are equally as effective at parenting as their heterosexual counterparts, such as a study by Lifelong Adoptions, which has shown the lesbian couples who have children via artificial insemination end up raising well-balanced, well-adjusted kids.[6] I would argue that gay couples might even be better parents than straight couples. We know that a gay couple can’t “accidentally” have a child. This means that if they want a child, they are going to have to work very hard to adopt one. Not only do they have to defeat the social stigma associated with gay parenting, but they have to endure a lengthy process to adopt a child, which usually takes 3 years on average. It is safe to assume that children adopted by gay and lesbian couples would show the same results. Gay couples offer adopted children with two full-time parents. Two good parents are better than one and definitely better than none. A good parent is caring and nurturing, which are characteristics that are present regardless of one’s sexuality. Also, there are 5 times the number of LGBT parents willing to adopt than there are children in foster care.[7]

Have Hospital Visitation Rights

Homosexual couples receive only a fraction of the benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples. For example, a majority of the states do not have specific legal pathways that protect same-sex couples’ hospital visitation rights.[8] However, any hospital participating in Medicare and/or Medicaid is required by federal regulations to uphold inclusive visitation practices, because of a 2010 presidential directive issued to the Department of Health and Human Services.[9] Despite that progress, some couples still don’t have their visitation rights protected. There are too many heart-wrenching stories of one loving spouse being barred from the bedside, while the person they vowed to cherish — in sickness and in health — took their final breaths.[10] This denial of rights is exactly what led to the major Supreme Court decision for marriage equality.

Have Access to Adequate Healthcare

For LGBT people that actually have access to health insurance, gaining access to the appropriate care can still pose difficulties. For instance, a transgender individual will not be covered for any procedure or cancer screenings that are inconsistent with the gender marked on the insurance card, such as a pap smear for a transgender man with an intact cervix. One out of five transgendered individuals have been reported being turned down when seeking healthcare.[11]

Have Consensual Sex

Twelve states still ban anal sex by statute.[12] These so-called “sodomy laws” were established with the expressed intention of criminalizing gay sex. These states continue to uphold the law against sodomy, despite the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas that such laws are unconstitutional. In these states, gay people are still being arrested for having consensual sex.

Serve in the Military Equally

Since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010, gay and lesbian Americans eager to serve the country but not willing to compromise who they are as individuals can, for the first time ever in our military’s history, identify openly while serving the military. This year, the Obama administration made it known that they would like to change the decades-old policy of disqualifying a potential recruit because they are openly transgender.[13] In the US army, six states (Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia) are refusing to comply with ex Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order that gay spouses of National Guard members be given the same federal marriage benefits as heterosexual spouses, forcing couples to travel hours round trip to the nearest federal installation. Furthermore, some benefits offered on bases, like support services for relatives of deployed service members, could still be blocked.[14]

It isn't over yet.

Some have argued that the Supreme Court decision virtually ensures the rights of same-sex marriage partners; therefore this presentation is no longer relevant. Don’t get so complacent and ecstatic about this victory that you forget that the whole reason the Supreme Court needed to rule on this case in the first place is because people wish to actively discriminate against other people. Those people that disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision will not give up that easy. We will have to fight for every right and never give up until all people are equal.

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