Empowering Voices - After Marriage Equality Victory, There’s Plenty of Work Yet to Do

On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down all same-sex marriage equality bans nationwide. The fight is over! The end. Game over. That’s a wrap.
But wait: I want to offer an alternative to this “happily-ever-after” scenario. Even though many people see it as true, they should look again.
Historic strides have been made in the marriage equality movement. But that’s just it -- the marriage movement has strangely been mistaken for LGBTQ rights for quite some time, and I am here to tell you that our fight is not over. We must continue working toward even more basic human rights than marriage.
Discrimination in the workplace is still very much a part of everyday life for many LGBTQ Americans. In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback has actually reversed workplace protections for LGBT state employees. In Missouri, legislators again failed to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA), which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. This issue goes beyond employment law. Residents are being denied the basic human right of self-identification.  
So-called “reparative therapy” is another issue that we need to address. In most states, minors are not protected against this extremely harmful practice, which claims to eliminate a person’s homosexual desires through counseling. The American Psychological Association and other professional organizations have strongly condemned the practice, saying it can lead to anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior.
According to a 2009 report from San Francisco State University, young people who are “highly rejected” by their families and caregivers are more than eight times as likely to attempt suicide as young people who are rejected a little or not at all.
Yet, in most states, parents can force children to listen as a stranger tells them how to fit properly into society’s predefined gender expectations. It’s a form of child abuse that is totally legal in most places.

While there’s still work to do, you would expect that the members of a movement that can be as influential as ours would work together to fight these injustices. In my own experience, however, this hasn’t been the case.
There’s still a lot of bickering and needless fighting over semantics within the various parts of our community. There are underrepresented voices that need to be heard. Instead of focusing on how different the members of our community can be, we need to recognize what common ground we have and use that as leverage against the injustices of this world.
This moment is a very important time for our community. We can either continue on our current path toward fragmentation, or we can work together and support each other. With all of us working toward a common goal, there’s nothing we won’t be able to accomplish.

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