After 40-plus years, the Supreme Court finally recognized marriage equality as a national right last June— a landmark decision that sent a signal that everyone, everywhere, should be free to love who you love. It was a historic decision, but right here in the US, folks in the LGBT community still face a spectrum of discrimination. And marriage equality itself, while growing around the world, is far from a global human right. Here’s how we can continue to support the LGBT community in the effort to reach full equality.
Item number 1
Support the Equality Act
Many people assume that discriminating against a person for their sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal all over the US. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Over half of US states still lack definitive legal protections for LGBT folks – protections that would shield them from being fired, evicted, denied services, refused loans or banned from public spaces simply because of who they are who whom they love.
The Equality Act would change all that. By making all discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation illegal in all 50 states, it would save a lot of people a lot of undue hardship. That’s why Ben & Jerry’s, and a host of other major companies including Google and Nike, support protecting LGBT people from discrimination via the Equality Act. Research show that 78% of voters support these protections, and you can add your name to the list of Americans calling on Congress to support passing the Equality Act.
Item number 2
Ensure Marriage Equality Becomes an International Right
Marriage equality becoming the law of the land was cause for celebration here in the US. And there are 19 other countries around the world that incorporate this right on a national level— some as early as back in 2001. But the push for marriage equality to become an international right is far from over, and in many countries LGBT people face discrimination, violence and oppression. Groups like the Human Rights Watch are spearheading efforts to make sure abuse is documented, and governments held responsible. Let’s cherish the progress our country, and many others, has made, while making sure people everywhere are able to love who they love without persecution.
Item number 3
Stop Anti-LGBT Legislation
As we’ve recently seen with the Alabama Chief Justice’s ongoing attempts to deny marriage licenses, state-level opposition to LGBT equality is not going away without a fight. And it’s more than thwarting the federal ruling on marriage equality. Last year, state legislatures introduced over 115 anti-LGBT bills— many with the aim of allowing businesses and agencies to deny services to LGBT individuals on the basis of religion. Check out the HRC to view resources on state-by-state protections against discrimination, support the Equality Act and find out how you can get involved in your own state.
Item number 4
Ensure Adoption is Equal, Too
Even with the marriage equality decision, LGBT people face a patchwork of laws across the country when it comes to adoption or foster care. As of now, only seven states have laws restricting discrimination against LGBT parents – the majority of states offer no protections against discrimination. Four states even restrict LGBT foster care, or allow state-licensed child welfare agencies to deny parental care based on religious conflict. Let’s ensure that every responsible family, regardless of sexual orientation, has the opportunity to adopt or foster.
Item number 5
Support Businesses that Support LGBT Equality
Whether you’re meeting friends for lunch, picking out new clothes or searching for that new flatscreen TV, you can get involved in the progress toward LGBT equality. The original HRC Buyer’s Guide was released over a decade ago, and with each passing year it’s become easier and easier to support businesses that have inclusive policies toward their LGBT employees. Take a look the 2016 Buyer’s Guide and voice your support for LGBT equality with the dollars you spend.