This year’s Pride Month festivities are marked by some serious anxiety, as the nation awaits two Supreme Court rulings that could reshape the movement — and laws related to relationship recognition.
The court is expected to rule later this month on a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and to California’s Proposition 8, which stripped gay couples there of marriage rights in 2008.
If the court rules as many observers expect and allows marriages to resume in the nation’s most populous state while simultaneously striking down DOMA, we’ll have historic new reasons to commemorate June as Pride Month.
In addition to those cases, we’ve seen a flood of good news since the November elections, from ballot wins in four states to several new states approving marriage equality. Despite the setback in Illinois, there’s a lot to celebrate this Pride season.
All the unprecedented good news prompted us to use this Pride issue of the Blade to ask some prominent advocates, writers and thought leaders for their responses to the following questions: “Have we reached a turning point in the LGBT rights movement and what does the end of the movement look like to you?”
Check out the responses from celebrities like Chris Kluwe and local politicians like Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur in our Pride coverage. There seems to be a consensus that we’re not at the end of the movement but that perhaps we’ve arrived at a turning point from which the nation can’t turn back.
We’ve seen dramatic change since President Obama took office in 2009 and began delivering on a range of promises to the community, from signing an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes bill and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal to endorsing marriage equality before the 2012 election. Of course, there’s work still to do and Obama should use the occasion of next week’s White House Pride Month reception to (finally) announce his intent to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from engaging in workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s the right thing to do and Obama pledged to do it. He has said he prefers a legislative solution to the problem of anti-LGBT discrimination (ENDA) but that is sadly out of reach as long as John Boehner is in charge of the House of Representatives. Obama has issued more than 150 executive orders on a broad array of subjects. An order barring discrimination against LGBT workers is overdue and critical to protecting the livelihoods of those not fortunate enough to live on the more progressive coasts with state and local prohibitions.
There are no laws prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 29 states (and in 34 states based on gender identity). Amid all the marriage attention, there’s concern from many in the movement that workplace discrimination and other issues have taken a backseat. Indeed, although everyone won’t marry, most of us have to work.
And workplace discrimination isn’t the only problem remaining to be addressed. We account for only about 4-5 percent of the population but 20 percent of hate crimes target LGBT people; 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT; 63 percent of all new HIV infections are among men who have sex with men, up 22 percent since 2008; sodomy laws remain on the books in 17 states, including Maryland and Massachusetts; the FDA still bans gay men from donating blood; immigration law ignores our relationships; an estimated 28 percent of black trans people are unemployed.
So let’s celebrate the remarkable achievements of the last year with an eye toward tackling even more intractable problems in the future.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at email@example.com.