Wednesday, July 4, 2007
So, as gay people, how far do we have to go before we can fully celebrate this national holiday. I know that marriage would give us 132 additional rights as married couples that we currently don't have. I visited the website of the 'National Gay and Lesbian Task Force" to see how far we need to go in some areas. What I was looking for was a concise list, but well, this will give you some idea. Thanks to the Task Force:
LGBT people face a number of particular challenges as they age. They often do not have access to adequate health care, affordable housing and other social services that they need due to institutionalized heterosexism and transphobia. Mainstream senior providers have limited information or training in how to appropriately work with and serve our diverse communities. Existing regulations and proposed policy changes in programs like Social Security or Medicare, which impact millions of LGBT elders, are discussed without our views and interests as part of the debate.
Anti Gay Industry
The anti-gay industry has made great gains over the past two decades, restricting family recognition in 39 states and parenting in at least seven. It continues to work feverishly to restrict the rights of LGBT people, among others. We must stand against these assaults, which are aimed to degrade and dehumanize LGBT people for political and financial gain. Ex-gay ministries increasingly focus on young people, targeting some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campus members find that they must hide significant parts of their identity from peers and others, thereby isolating themselves socially or emotionally. Those who do not to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity might encounter discrimination, verbal or physical harassment, and subtle or outright silencing of their sexual identities.
A heterosexist climate has not only inhibited the acknowledgment and expression of LGBT perspectives, it has also limited curricular initiatives and research efforts, as seen in the lack of LGBT content in university course offerings. Furthermore, the contributions and concerns of LGBT people have often remained unrecognized.
Such challenges can prevent LGBT students from achieving their academic potential or participating fully in the campus community. Likewise, other campus community members, including LGBT faculty, staff and administrators may suffer as a result of the same prejudices, limiting their ability to achieve their career goals and to mentor or support students.
Election and Politics
Elected officials exercise enormous power over critical issues affecting LGBT people, including granting nondiscrimination protections and family recognition; allocating funding for health and human service needs; and appointing judges whose rulings could impact our community for generations to come. Elected officials need to know that LGBT people comprise a voting bloc that won’t sit on the sidelines as their rights and lives are being trampled upon.
Religion is often used to demonize and persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, just as religion has and continues to be used to justify oppression of other communities. Over the last 30 years, however, some mainstream denominations have made enormous strides in their attitudes, policies and practices concerning LGBT people. For example, the Episcopal Church (USA), Reform Judaism, United Churches of Christ and Unitarian Universalists welcome and affirm participation by LGBT people. Other major denominations — most notably Presbyterians and United Methodists — have hundreds of "welcoming and affirming" congregations and are struggling to determine their denominational views on LGBT people. These shifts have had a profound impact on the way in which Americans view homosexuality and have, in turn, provided the foundation for winning nondiscrimination protections and other rights in some parts of the country. Equally important, millions of LGBT people have been able to find community and exercise their faith in houses of worship.
Why It Matters:
Despite these advances, the use of religion and religious beliefs to oppose equal rights for LGBT people is escalating, not diminishing. For example, the leaders of the nation's largest Christian denominations, Christian fundamentalist congregations and huge evangelical-dominated organizations have joined forces and mobilized to respond to the supposed threat of same-sex marriage. Their organizing capacity is enormous, and spotlights how imperative it is that the LGBT rights advocates work with and within communities of faith to reclaim from the right wing the true meaning of moral values.
Anti-LGBT leaders argue that hate crimes laws punish unpopular but constitutionally protected thought and speech. But hate crimes laws are designed to punish actions, not thought or speech. These critics also focus on intent, claiming that all violence is motivated based on some kind of hate, or that it is hard to prove whether a perpetrator is specifically choosing a victim because of his or her real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The fact is, however, that the criminal justice system focuses on intent or motive all the time, particularly in sentencing. For example, the legal distinction between murder and manslaughter rests on whether the killer intended to kill and whether the killing was premeditated.
In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that hate crimes laws, and enhanced sentences based upon intent, are constitutional. In his decision, Chief Justice William Rehnquist specifically noted that judges have traditionally been allowed to consider the motivation of defendants when imposing sentences. Justice Rehnquist also noted that hate crimes inflict distinct emotional harm on their victims and can trigger greater social instability.
Hate crimes send a message of terror to an entire group and are therefore unlike a random act of violence. For example, the brutal murder of James Byrd, who was chained to the bumper of a truck and dragged down a street in Texas, sent a chilling message to African-Americans that racial violence and murder remain continued threats. Likewise, LGBT people wonder whether they will be the next Matthew Shepard. Hate crimes laws recognize the particular social threat of bias-motivated violence. Unfortunately, anti-LGBT groups like the Traditional Values Coalition and Focus on the Family oppose hate crimes laws.
Those who murder police officers face higher penalties than people who murder civilians, and terrorists who target federal buildings face higher penalties. In 1999, Congress passed a law that created harsher sanctions for countries that persecute religious freedoms. Such laws are not viewed as valuing some lives more than others. Instead, they send a message that certain crimes that strike at this country’s core values, such as the freedom to live free of persecution, will be punished and deterred by both enhanced penalties and federal involvement in the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families deserve the same respect, recognition and protection as all other families. Family recognition and the many rights and protections it provides is essential to the well-being of our families.
Why It Matters:
Legally recognized partnership such as marriage in Massachusetts and civil unions in Connecticut must, and in those cases do, secure essential rights and protections for our families and children. But same-sex couples, even those legally recognized by their states, are denied the 1,138 federal benefits available to or required of married opposite-sex couples. The denial of those benefits hurts our families.
Why It Matters:
Think the presence of gay characters on TV makes life easy for young people? True, youth are coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) at younger ages than ever before. Meanwhile:
Ex-gay ministries have decisively shifted their focus to young people.
There is a epidemic of homelessness among LGBT youth.
Children of LGBT parents are harmed by restrictions on parenting, foster parenting and adoption.
LGBT students encounter widespread harassment and alienation on campus."
This is just the tip of the iceberg, Thought we have much to be thankful for, we have a lot to work for to achieve full equality. Keep up the good fight and don't be lulled into a false sense of security.