Most same-sex couples in the United States would still face legal discrimination even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that gay marriage should be legal in all 50 states, a national nonprofit says in a recently released report.
The Movement Advancement Project’s “Mapping LGBT Equality in America” report says that 61 percent of the country’s LGBTs would “continue to live in states with medium or low legal protections – or that have outright hostile laws,” the group announced in a May 27 news release.
The nation’s top court is set to announce its ruling in June. Many expect the justices to rule in same-sex couples’ favor.
“Without question, a victory at the Supreme Court would be a transformative in helping advance equality for LGBT people,” Ineke Mushovic, MAP’s executive director, stated. “However, many other laws are needed to fully protect LGBT people and their families. For example, while same-sex couples may soon be able to marry in their home state, that same state’s laws may fail to protect LGBT youth from being bullied in schools, lack non-discrimination laws covering LGBT workers, or lack laws and policies that help transgender people update the gender marker on their identity documents.”
Among other findings, the report says that even if the Supreme Court ruling is favorable to gay couples, “52 percent of LGBT people would be at risk of being fired from their jobs, kicked out of their homes, or denied access to doctor’s offices and restaurants.”
The organization’s report tallies 34 current laws and policies related to LGBT population and uses its criteria to place states into four categories: high, medium, low, or negative equality.
MAP found that California, where same-sex marriage is already legal thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, has the country’s highest level for LGBT equality. The state’s tally is 29.25 out of a possible 34.
Besides same-sex marriage, the state also allows for gay parents to adopt children and bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, among other recognitions.
Louisiana has the country’s lowest tally, with negative 6 out of 34.
The state bans same-sex marriage, and doesn’t have laws addressing adoption rights for gay couples or anti-LGBT employment discrimination, the MAP report says.
Despite the negative score, Matthew Patterson, research and policy coordinator for Equality Louisiana, indicated the situation may not be as dire as it appears.
In a brief phone interview, he indicated life in Louisiana isn’t as tough as the report makes it look, but he said, “We are missing a lot of things we need to have.”
Parker did point to some successes, though.
He noted in an email that LGBTs in the state have maintained “the ability of cities to pass local ordinances to protect LGBTs, and stopped legislation that would have allowed charter schools to refuse admission to LGBT kids,” among other work.
The report also says that LGB people receive more protections than transgender people.
“Almost double the number of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people live in states with high tallies for sexual orientation protections (45 percent) than transgender people who live in states with high tallies for gender identity protections (28 percent),” according to the report.
Mushovic stated, “Most Americans do not personally know someone who is transgender, and therefore there is often less understanding of the added legal barriers and discrimination transgender people can face. From health insurance discrimination that denies transgender people medically-necessary care to unnecessary barriers to changing the gender marker on driver’s licenses, transgender people often live in states with laws that compromise their health, employment, ability to rent an apartment, and more.”
A gay California man who’s advocated for LGBTs in the Baha’i faith recently withdrew from the religion over its anti-gay stance.
Sean Rayshel, 36, is a third-generation American Baha’i who founded the LGBT Baha’i Twitter account Gay Baha’is United, is co-administrator of the Facebook group “LGBTQ Baha’is and Allies,” and heads LGBT Baha’i online site Gay/Lesbian Baha’i Story Project.
A May 2014 letter that Rayshel believes was circulated by Baha’i leadership says, “To regard a person who has a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain is entirely against the spirit of the faith.”
However, the letter from the faith’s Universal House of Justice’s Department of the Secretariat also says, “Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and sexual relations are only permissible between husband and wife.”
In a message to faith leadership in April, just weeks after he found out about the 2014 letter, Rayshel, who lives in Palm Springs with his husband, Rich Tarpening, 50, withdrew from the religion.
” … I feel I can no longer associate with a religion that does not perceive LGBT rights as a true social value,” Rayshel said, adding, “I, as a gay man, find it offensive that my same-sex attraction is primarily summed up to a sex act or a perceived notion that I over-emphasize my sexuality which is seen as destructive and self-indulgent.”
In a phone interview, Rayshel said that even though he’s no longer officially Baha’i, he plans to remain active online and “be an agent for change,” even if it’s from the outside.
He said the religion has tried to portray itself as progressive, but the 2014 letter makes it look like a “cult,” which he said is “just really sad.”
No one from the faith group responded to a request for comment left in a general voicemail box Monday afternoon, June 1.
Brown issues Pride proclamation
California Governor Jerry Brown Monday issued his annual LGBT Pride Month proclamation, and hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of equality when it issues its same-sex marriage decision later this month.
“It is possible that the rulings of the court in these matters will decide once and for all the issue of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans for all 50 states,” Brown states in the proclamation, referring to the consolidated cases arising from four states. “I join millions of LGBT citizens and allies, in California and across the nation, in the hope that this decision will come down on the side of fairness and equality for all.”
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