Guest Post by Joyce Arnold.
One way to get a “big picture” overview is through the numbers provided by polls and surveys. One reason it’s important to get a “big picture” perspective is because that’s where local stories and individual lives take place. They add up, or subtract down, to create the big picture.
So, a highly selective “by the numbers” look at Queerdom today follows …
Via a Metro article, “”˜Huge progress’ in gay rights,” in which Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, offered the “good news” first.
Every country in Europe has protection for its citizens and many countries have protection of family rights, for example the right to marry. … every country in Latin America has decriminalized homosexuality. And we even have progress in some African countries. We still have two-thirds criminalizing it but some, like Mozambique, have made it clear that they’re committed, while South Africa has the most progressive constitution in the world, even going so far as to uphold the right to marry and to adopt children.
Of course, there is also “bad news.” For example, “In “˜progressive’ South Africa, just last month, Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old well-known lesbian activist, died after being stabbed with glass shards, during what’s known locally as a “˜corrective rape.’“ And, “Those in the Middle East and certain parts of Africa are still mired in a certain type of social conservatism that leads to violence,’ adding that “poverty and religion complicate matters.”
While there are obvious differences, I think it’s worth noting the role of a “certain type” of religion, because that definitely shows up in this nation as well. The comments of Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association provide one reliable source of hyperbolic, homegrown religiously based bigotry. Recently, for example, Fischer likened “the homosexuals” and “the Muslims” to Nazis.
From international to national focus, on May 4 the Pew Research Center released a “political typology” survey, which included questions about homosexuality.
A 58% majority of Americans “say that homosexuality should be accepted, rather than discouraged, by society.” Younger people, not surprisingly, show “broad support for societal acceptance of homosexuality”: 63% of those under 50, and 69% of those under 30.
The good news part of this survey tells us why Republican wannabe’s Pawlenty, Bachmann and Gringrich have all recently appeared on the Bryan Fischer radio show. A significant segment of Tea Party era Republican-land still wants those long-running social wedge issues.
Majorities across most demographic groups say that homosexuality should be accepted by society. But there are wide political and religious differences in opinions on this measure. Two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and 63% of independents say that homosexuality should be accepted, compared with 40% of Republicans.
Among religious groups, substantial majorities of the religiously unaffiliated (79%), white Catholics (66%) and white mainline Protestants (65%) say that homosexuality should be accepted. However, just 29% of white evangelical Protestants agree, while more than twice as many (63%) say homosexuality should be discouraged by society.
There also are gender and racial differences: More women than men favor societal acceptance of homosexuality (64% vs. 52%). Hispanics (64%) and whites (58%) are more supportive of this than are African Americans (49%).
Act on Principle’s “Grading the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus“ adds another set of numbers. The Caucus is chaired by four openly gay members of Congress: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and David Cicilline (D-RI). There are 96 total members.
“Based on its percentage support of LGBT friendly legislation introduced in the House of Representatives,” AOP graded the Equality Caucus with “one A, three B’s and five F’s.”
The one A is for a 95% support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act. Receiving B’s are the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (87%); Respect for Marriage Act (84%); Uniting American Families Act (82%). The highest F (54% support) is for the Safe Schools Improvement Act. The lowest was 7% for the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.
Three members of the Caucus support all nine pieces of legislations: Judy Chu (D-CA);
Michael Honda (D-CA); and Steven Rothman (D-NJ). Ten members support only one or two pieces of legislation.
In the “big picture,” that there are so many pieces of legislation is good news. But the F grades do raise questions about how seriously these various pieces of legislation are taken.
To narrow the picture a bit more, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and National Center for Transgender Equality released: “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” via a briefing to that same Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
The study … reveals that transgender and gender non-conforming people face injustice in many places, including in school systems … workplaces … in doctors’ offices and at emergency rooms, among other settings. Transgender people of color generally experienced the highest rates of discrimination in all areas of life.
The findings include “high rates of harassment and discrimination while in grades K-12: harassment (78 percent), physical assault (35 percent) and sexual assault (12 percent).” Direct housing discrimination was reported by 19 %; unemployment is at “twice the rate of the general population at the time of the survey, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.” On the job harassment, mistreatment or discrimination was reported by 90%.
Finally, the only “numbers” part of this is that two members of Congress have stated they think the one person at the top of the Democratic Party will back marriage equality in 2012.
Via Pam at Houseblend, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) told the Advocate “Definitely” when asked if she thought Obama would do this. Barney Frank (D-MA) said, “This is just my intuition, but I think the President will be supportive of marriage in the states that offer it before the 2012 election.”
Adding up the good and bad news, living our lives in the evolving big picture equals lots of work still to be done, but with clear and steady progress being made. At least that’s my summation. Yours?