The United States have just seen a huge few weeks for LGBT rights, thanks to the Supreme Court's sweeping, marriage-equality-affirming decision on June 26. But it's important not to start getting too cozy, because the struggle for equal protection for LGBT Americans under the law is still ongoing.
The Supreme Court ruling was followed by a positively joyful Pride weekend (the ruling came down just two days prior), and has since given way to a comfortable, thrilling new status quo. The new reality is short and sweet: Same-sex couples can now marry across all 50 states and in U.S. territories.
But even that's not entirely resolved, thanks to ongoing, last-ditch efforts to defy the court's ruling in some areas across the country. It just goes to show that even when everything seems settled and done, the forces of retrograde anti-LGBT bias — sometimes rooted in religious belief, sometimes in a vague sense of heteronormative tradition — are not so easily overcome. Here are three signs the LGBT rights movement isn't over. Because it's important to avoid getting complacent.
Scott Walker Doesn't Want Gay Boy Scout Leaders
On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to end a long-running, controversial policy: their ban on gay scout leaders, which earned them a fair amount of negative publicity in recent years.
But there's one person who was keen on the old ban, and who'd like to see it back if he could — Republican Presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who spoke out against the change of course on Tuesday. In comments to the Independent Journal Review, Walker framed the issue as being about the protection of children.
I was an Eagle Scout, my kids have been involved, Tonette (Walker) was a den mother ... I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.
Needless to say, this is incredibly offensive and inflammatory to a great deal of people — Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin was none too pleased.
His comments imply that we represent a threat to the safety and well-being of young people. For a sitting governor and presidential candidate to make such a disgraceful claim is unconscionable.
The Senate Votes Against K-12 LGBT Protections
The U.S. Congress is never a particularly swift or dynamic body these days, but it'd be nice if they could get on the same page on some of this basic human rights issues. Faced with a vote on a federal anti-bullying bill for LGBT children in elementary school clear through high school, the U.S. Senate dropped the ball. As the Washington Post detailed, Minnesota Senator Al Franken made an emotional plea for his colleagues to pass it, but it sadly fell short.
If a black child was referred to by a racial slur at school, would we say kids will be kids? If a Jewish student got beat up because he wore a yarmulke to school, would we wave it off and say boys will be boys? If a shop teacher told a female student she didn’t belong in his class, would we be fine if the school just looked the other way? No, we would not. In fact, there are federal civil rights laws that are specifically designed to stop this kind of conduct.
ENDA Still Hasn't Gone Anywhere
ENDA — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — is a hugely important piece of proposed legislation for LGBT Americans in general and transgender Americans in particular. It would make it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientations or their gender identities, whether in hiring or in the workplace, and that would be huge. As it stands now, a majority of U.S. states still lack these protections, making it effectively legal to fire someone for who they are or whom they love.
Passing ENDA would be a major victory, but it's going to take a lot of work. Despite passing the Senate in 2013 by a comfortable 64-32 vote, the bill has since languished in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives — not exactly a hotbed of transgender advocacy, to say the least.