Sure, we’ve made a ton of progress towards gaining equality for LGBTQ individuals in the US over the past four years. From ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT),” to gaining marriage “equality” in a few more states. In fact, maybe you even know someone who has “married” there same-sex spouse. Still, the fact is that people are being gay-washed to believe that LGBTQ citizens in this country are anything but second-class.
Let’s start with the joke that we refer to as “marriage equality.” The truth is there is not a single same-sex married couple in any state in this country that has a marriage which offers equal legal protections compared to their opposite-sex counterparts. Perhaps their particular states recognize their marriage, but the Federal government does not. In reality, legally “married” same-sex couples are all denied over 1,100 Federal rights offered to opposite-sex married couples because of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
We jump for joy over the fact that a limited number of same-sex couples are allowed to engage in second-class marriages in a total of six states, compared to more than double that number of states where full marriage equality is granted to those who want to marry their first-cousins. Meanwhile, we forget that in over half the states in the US, LGBTQ individuals can legally be fired from their job and evicted from their houses strictly on the basis of their sexual orientation.
We all seem to believe that there’s no turning back on the advancement of gay rights. However, from state bills that attempt to make it a crime to mention homosexuality in public schools to Federal Amendments included in the Republican national platform to define marriage as between one man and one woman, there’s no foreseeable end in sight as far as the attacks on the on the civil liberties of LGBTQ people are concerned. Heck, in some recent situations, LGBTQ folks were granted rights only to have them taken away shortly after receiving them.
Let’s not forget the violent physical attacks that are a reality for LGBTQ citizens of this nation, even in the most liberal of cities. 2011 marked the deadliest year for LGBTQ individuals marking the highest number of murders committed against them ever. Beyond murder, LGBTQ citizens are routinely bullied, harassed, and physically assaulted on a daily basis. So much so that many of them either force themselves into a reclusive life in the closet, or sadly, take their own lives to escape the trauma.
This only touches the tip of the iceberg and didn’t include specifics regarding the transgendered community, who bear the brunt of the most heinous and violent attacks and who are truly under siege when it comes to basic decency and civil rights. The moral of this story is that we need to keep fighting. We can’t do it alone either, we need our straight allies to stand up and step in. Sure, we can clap and parade for a short time when another state passes same-sex “marriage,” but we need to stay the course. We have no choice but to keep telling the truth and keep up this battle. There’s still a long, long road ahead and we absolutely have to continue to persevere.