Friday, June 21, 2013

Marriage Equality Is Not Equality

A video making the rounds on Twitter inspired me to finally sit down and write a blog about something that’s been circling my head for the better part of a year. Many LGBT allies are pushing for equal marriage rights. In an environment where you have to snare public support when it drifts across your path I can see why. The LGBT community has the public’s attention on this issue. They need to use it.

However, marriage equality is only the tip of this very ugly pile of injustice, my friends. There are rights much more important than marriage equality that remain unaddressed. As close as we are to equal marriage rights in the US, members of the LGBT community are miles from equality.

Did you know:

In 25 states same-sex spouses (or those recognized in civil unions in other states) don’t have the right to make medical decisions on behalf of their partner because they aren’t considered relatives. In some cases, they aren’t even allowed to sit by their bed and hold their hand.*

In 29 states it is legal to fire someone from their job for being LGBT.*

In 20 states assault of an LGBT person is not considered a hate crime.*

In 31 states there are no laws in place to specifically protect LBGT students from bullying and harassment. *

In 33 states there are no laws in place to protect LGBT students from discrimination by faculty or students.*

Even legal same-sex marriages are not what they seem. As this video demonstrates, marriages between same sex couples have a very small jurisdiction. They aren’t recognized in most states in the US. They aren’t recognized by the Federal government and they don’t apply as a legal union in matters of immigration. They aren’t recognized as legal unions when traveling outside of the US except in other countries where same-sex marriages are legal. Married same-sex couples from other countries traveling to the US aren’t recognized as legally wed either.

Even with the repeal of DADT, same-sex couples aren’t recognized as legal spouses in the military and won’t be transferred overseas with their active duty partners.

We have an illusion of growing equality but it isn’t the truth. The above statistics are the truth. Most LGBT people in the US are still subject to open discrimination and that will continue long after marriage rights become law…unless we use the same tenacity we’ve demonstrated for DOMA to fix it. I have every confidence we can as long as we remember marriage equality is just the beginning. It’s not the end.


*http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/maps-of-state-laws-policies





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