What does it mean to be LGBTQ at this moment in history? In a year where the United States has seen a significant movement towards LGBTQ equality with the definition of marriage expanded to include LGBTQ, we have also seen some horrific events.
Two weeks ago the Mormon Church put out a doctrine of hate in their updated handbook, which caused shock and protest. This update to the handbook not only formalized the expulsion of lesbians and gay men who marry an individual of the same sex but stigmatizes their children as well.
Two weeks ago on election day, Houston, Texas voters defeated the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). The ordinance, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, also prohibited discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, etc. etc. You get the idea. It was a wide-ranging anti-discrimination law. But in a very ugly campaign that centered around men in women’s clothing, (think trans), coming into the woman’s restroom with your wife and your daughter, Houston voters overturned the ordinance. Across the USA, according to the Washington Post, 17 states and over 200 municipalities bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but in 33 states LGBT Americans are not fully protected from discrimination.
And this past weekend we saw the horrific attacks across Paris, France by ISIS, a group that the United Nations has documented killed over thirty LTBTQ individuals. ISIS has actively sought out LGBTQ individuals in the geography where they rule in order to eliminate them.
As I watch the presidential candidates I have been struck with the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric coming from the republican candidates. I fear how the pendulum could swing against LGBTQ rights if one of the present field of republicans is elected president. As a country, we are swinging between the extremes of hate and inclusivity.
I am grateful to be living and working in the Washington, D.C. capital region where Maryland and the District of Columbia have significant protections written into law at the state level to outlaw discrimination for sexual orientation or gender identity. When I came out at work in 2014 my company welcomed me with open arms – it was simply fantastic and amazing.
We, as LGBTQ, have made amazing progress in the past few years. But there are many forces trying to turn back the hard-won rights, both here in the USA and around the world. It is important that we continue to fight for our rights and against those that would like to stigmatize us and take away our hard-won rights.
The Human Rights Campaign has documented, that even with marriage equality, in many parts of the country you can be married one day to a same sex partner one day and lose your job the next day just for getting married. There is still a lot of work to be done in this country. States like Texas, which do not have a statewide anti-discrimination law, leave it up to each city. So today you protected in Austin and Dallas but not Houston. The fight continues.