The new ABC miniseries that comes on tonight “We Will Rise “made me think about the great struggle that LGBT people have been engaged in for decades and reminded me of the book that I wrote on the issue just a few months back. So, I decided to blog an excerpt from that book as well as adding some content to discuss the issue before this very important series starts. I found it of utmost importance for people to see the struggle that this community has gone through in recent years as it is an issue so very dear to my heart and needs to be discussed.
LGBT people have been discriminated against since the beginning of history and this discrimination continues here in America and around the world in today’s world even as we have made progress and advanced the rights of these people and their families. Speaking of America, we have some laws in some places in place that prevent and punish discrimination but still there is discrimination and many states and jurisdictions do not protect LGBT citizens and they are fired, evicted, kicked out of public places, and so on just for being who they are and loving who they love.
The Obama administration made some great changes to our federal laws and did great work in protecting LGBT people and their rights and was really a hero and champion for the community in many ways. However, things have changed since the election of Mr. Trump and even in his short time in power he has attacked LGBT rights and likely will continue to do so. Transgender rights were attacked just a few days ago as in some states transgender students will no longer be able to be themselves and use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity and that is simply wrong!
There is no place in today’s world for this type of hateful discrimination but it happens far too often and something must be done about it, especially in a supposedly free country. We have gained many rights over the years but we still fall short in a lot of areas and LGBT people are still treated unfairly and met with hate and judgement. These people deserve fairness and equality yet in many places they are not treated with this respect but instead face injustice.
We see that in liberal states this does not happen very often but in Republican controlled states mainly in the South and Midwest it is a regular occurrence even in this day and age. In this chapter we will look at some of the ways that LGBT Americans are discriminated against and what we can do about it and later on in this book look at how LGBT rights and discrimination exists around the world and what can be done there to help those impacted.
LGBT people in our nation have overcome a lot over the years and we have made a ton of progress in relation to equality and obtaining their rights but we see that there is so much more to do and the reason for that is because there are many who still have hate and intolerance in their hearts and they use these less than desirable values to inflict pain on the LGBT community among others. Many feel helpless to change this but I am sure those who were beaten and jailed for loving who they love decades ago felt the same but they stood up and fought for their rights and for the equality that we enjoy today and that is what we must also do.
We saw in the previous chapters how this discrimination existed with marriage equality for decades and also in other areas as LGBT people struggled to gain their civil rights in this country but even with this immense progress that has been made over the years still today discrimination exists and it is happening in a large number of states even as we speak. Two of the more recent cases of discrimination perpetrated by government leaders happened when first Indiana and North Carolina after that passed anti-LGBT legislation denying civil rights to their LGBT citizens.
In Indiana the governor and now VP of the United States Mike Pence enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was not religious freedom at all but was in fact legalized discrimination against LGBT people that allowed any public business to deny service based on sexual orientation and caused a lot of harm to the state and then just this year in the state of North Carolina the then governor who was recently ousted passed an anti-transgender bill that also took aim at LGBT people as a whole. In Indiana LGBT people could be denied entry or service in businesses just because of their sexual orientation but thankfully hundreds of Fortune 500 companies, leaders of other states, and more rejected this and then boycotted the state costing them tens of millions in revenue but more costing them their image.
The backlash caused the eventual change of the bill and an eventual cancelation of the legislation that harmed the LGBT community and democracy as a whole. The governor would cave and come to realize that he could not win this fight so he dropped it and moved on. This was a win as America as a whole stood with the LGBT community and sent the message that we would not go back to the dark ages where people were segregated and we could not return to segregation and hateful discrimination. It was the big companies, entertainers, political leaders, and more who told Pence and Indiana that this would not be tolerated and equality once again won.
It would not be long before another state would try to push their hateful agenda and discriminate against the community as the governor of North Carolina pushed for HB2, this was a bill that had some of the most discriminatory legislation and language of any law in some time and he held on to it despite some of the same opposition that the Indiana law had and stood firm as he defended it. This man I refer to is none other than Gov. Pat McCrory whom pushed for this anti-LGBT and anti-transgender bill that would divide his state and in the end cost him his re-election bid this November. The damage had been done though as HB2 hurt an already hurting community as transgender Americans are the most attacked group in this country and this has become more of a reality in recent years.
The law did two things; one it took away protections that were already in place for LGBT in the state and two it requires transgender people to use the restroom that aligns to the name on their birth certificate, in other words if they change their name when they transition then they must also change it on birth certificate in order to use the restroom that they identify with. We can see how this bill discriminates against LGBT people as well as taking away the rights of transgender people and singling them out and discriminating against them. The governor didn’t back down despite the NRA All-Star Game pulling the game out of the state and business after business leaving the state. This was and is a stubborn governor and it ended up costing him the election in 2016 as not only did he harm the LGBT community and transgender people specifically but he also harmed the image of that state and the people of North Carolina as well as costing them jobs and revenue going forward.
These are just two examples of many instances where LGBT people have faced discrimination on a state level but they also get discriminated against by businesses and individuals across this nation on a daily basis and we have to continue to stand up and protect them from this kind of hate and intolerance. The bills in these two states had nothing to do with so called religious freedom or protecting children but had everything to do with a growing culture of hate and discrimination of the LGBT community.
We have come a long way and accomplished so much throughout the years but as we can see there is much more to do and we have so much discrimination to contend with across this land as well as intolerant views of LGBT people who just want to live their lives and be who they are. You would think that in this day and age we would have reached a point where LGBT people are completed accepted but there is still injustice in this country and throughout the world and that is why the fight for equality and justice must carry on and why a chapter on ending hate and discrimination even has to be written in the first place.
There have been so many cases of discrimination in this country over the years and we continue to see them happening on a daily basis in states all across America and each time it happens we have to stand up for those that do it because it is wrong anytime discrimination happens to anyone and it happens to those in the LGBT community every single day in this country. It is time that we had a federal law that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people like we have federal laws that protect other vulnerable groups in this country as currently we have state laws in some states but still in 31 states you can be fired, evicted, or denied service for being LGBT and that is just wrong.
In these states LGBT people are discriminated against in a variety of ways and this causes great harm to them and those who love them and that must stop. We know that it happens in some places more than others but it happens on a massive scale in a number of states. We will look at some specific cases where LGBT people were discriminated against and what happened as a result of those instances. Thankfully in many states there are laws that protect them but as stated there are many states that have zero protections for LGBT people and that is why this is an important issue to discuss.
There was the case in Oregon where a lesbian couple was denied service when they wanted a cake for their wedding which violated state law that protects LGBT people from discrimination in that state. This case carried on for years but in the end the lesbian couple won as a judge ruled that the bakery violated state law when they refused to bake the cake based on the fact that it violated their civil rights. I won’t mention names to protect all involved but the couple won a rather large settlement and the bakery ended up getting a huge fine and thus now just has an online operation.
This sadly was not the only time when an LGBT couple was discriminated against a gay couple was also refused service when a florist in Washington state refused to provide flowers for their wedding which violated the law in that state and thus were also sued and forced to go out of business. This was yet another case of many over the years where people thought that they could claim “religious freedom” and get away with denying LGBT people their constitutional rights as American citizens but they were wrong and continue to be wrong. When you own a business you have a duty to serve everyone regardless of their race, gender, sexual identity and so on but this bakery and florist and the many other places of business in this country that discriminated and continue to discriminate against LGBT people harm them and they should always be held accountable for their actions.
Thankfully there are states that do have laws that protect LGBT people but we need to think about the states that do not have laws on the books that prevent discrimination and do what we can to speak out on this issue and oppose hate and discrimination wherever we see it as that is the right thing to do. The states that do not protect LGBT citizens do a major disservice to their people as the major duty of a government is to make sure the rights of their citizens are protected and this means all their citizens not just some of them but these states without LGBT protections fail to do this.
There are a number of states that protect the rights of their straight citizens while not doing the same for their LGBT citizens and they do this by allowing businesses to discriminate and deny services and goods to those in the LGBT community. These states do a disservice to their people as we see by the cases mentioned where gay and lesbian couples are discriminated against and in this day and age you would think that we have moved away from the days where people were denied entry or service because of the fact that they are different, at least we hoped we had but appears that we have not.
We must fight for our LGBT brothers and sisters and part of that is within this resistance we are seeing in state by state since the rise of Trump. Now, discrimination of LGBT people is nothing new as you have seen but it is likely to get worse under this administration and that is simply unacceptable. We must mobilize and rise up to protect the rights of the most vulnerable citizens in this country and a way to do that is by speaking out, protesting, and standing up for your own rights as well as the rights of others. Just remember, alone we are outnumbered but together we are a force that cannot be stopped and our movement will carry on!