Released this week, An Ally’s Guide to Issues Facing LGBT Americans
… is a primer introducing the major areas in which unfair laws and stigma create extra burdens for LGBT Americans and prevent them from having the chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, and serve their country. …
Despite historic gains in the last few years, LGBT Americans are simply still not treated equally under federal law. Contrary to popular belief, federal legislation does not protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, credit or employment—and LGBT people also lack such protections in most states. LGBT workers often cannot extend their health insurance coverage to their partners or children. Without family and marriage tax deductions, LGBT families pay additional taxes but lack access to critical protections that many Americans often take for granted, like Social Security Survivor Benefits. Due to these and myriad other inequalities, LGBT people are more likely to live in poverty and suffer from health disparities.
The Guide focuses on “key areas that figure into the goal of equal opportunity for LGBT Americans,” and includes state maps that “document progress toward achieving” equality related to the workplace, health care, families, hate crimes and more. It was created by five organizations working together: the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Log Cabin Republicans, National Stonewall Democrats, and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute.
From LGBT Nation:
With the presidential election a mere two months away, the stakes are high for the estimated nine million LGBT Americans whose daily lives are limited by a lack of federal protections, and according to a new publication, most LGBT Americans live in a two-tier system where they must navigate conflicting state laws with the federal government’s refusal to offer the most basic securities, such as employment non-discrimination and anti-bullying protections.
It’s not surprising that many people don’t know about the lack of federal protections, in a wide range of areas, for LGBTs. But that lack shows up where we live, where we work, where we go for health care needs and more. “Real-world discrimination hits home,” Pam Spaulding writes in a post about the Guide, one I strongly recommend you read in its entirety. Pam’s personal and powerful story, unfortunately, isn’t unique in what it reveals. She writes:
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with straight allies that reveal just how little they know about the discrimination that still exists against their LGBT neighbors. Much of the high-profile conversations they know about relate to the right to marry, but they are, almost without exception, completely unaware that in 29 states, including North Carolina, where I live, you can be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity.
It’s a wonderful abstraction to have the President’s (and Democratic Party’s) open support for marriage equality … . . The Dems congregated in Charlotte, holding a convention that had the highest number of LGBT delegates and participants on record. But LGBT leaders packed their bags, many of them returning to Blue environs, leaving LGBT North Carolinians without any basic civil rights that are taken for granted by recognized protected classes and heterosexual couples. …
Pam argues, as many have, and as I agree, that
… the right to marry one’s same-sex partner is not exactly the highest priority in the daily lives of LGBTs if the states have already passed anti-LGBT marriage amendments, and there are no employment protections in state law. …
Turning to the personal, she writes that it’s “likely … I will face spinal surgery in the near future.” She and her partner were married in Canada, but of course, that isn’t recognized. And in North Carolina, as in other states, that lack of a legally recognized marriage means her wife
… cannot take advantage of FMLA to care for me when I need to convalesce for an extended period of time after a surgery. We are strangers in the eyes of NC law. Many, many allies do not know this discrimination is legal. …
All of that LGBT celebration in Charlotte was muted here in the trenches of real life.
Pam talks about what I’ve often heard, which remains the “in the trenches” reality for so many same-sex couples – spending the time, and money, to “cobble together paperwork no (heterosexual) married couple has to do,” knowing that even then, the legality can be challenged. More from Pam, which also sounds familiar.
It does get weary hearing flip comments from folks like:
‘You should just move to _____ (a Blue state),’ or ‘You have to be patient, look at how far this President has brought LGBT rights,’ or ‘This is an election about more important issues like ___ (jobs, international torture policy, corruption, etc.).’
That’s all well and good, and conveniently abstract. …
And life, of course, is lived in the trenches, not the abstract.
Whether marriage is a personal consideration for LGBTs or not, it’s obviously an important right, but for even more people, so are concerns about employment, housing, health care and other “issues” when you don’t have basic federal, and frequently don’t have any state or local, protections. An Ally’s Guide to Issues Facing LGBT Americans can be a useful tool toward some much needed education.
(Ally’s Guide cover via LGBT MAP.org)