When I was a child I badly wanted to join the Girl Scouts. I envied my friends who got to wear cute skirts and collared shirts, sell cookies to win bikes, and earn badges for learning new skills I repeatedly begged my mother to let me sign up, but she refused. When I was very young she told me that the people in charge were not very nice people. I got older and she explained that the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America had rules in place that prohibited the involvement of gay leaders in their organizations.
My mother said that by joining the Girl Scouts, I would be indirectly agreeing that homophobic ideals are okay, and that went against the principles of humanity that good people should follow. Over the years both gay rights in America and l have grown and evolved, the ban on gay leaders in the Boy Scouts was repealed in 2013.
While there has been steady progress, there is a common misconception among the public about how far gay rights have come.
Many seem to believe that the battle is over and gay and straight people are completely equal the relatively rapid progress of the Gay Rights Movement has actually been a detriment to the movement and the community because it creates a false belief of complete equality in the pubic eye. Close analysis of gay legislation and social treatment can dispel any belief that gay people are treated completely equally to straight people. 1969 marked the beginning of the gay rights movement.
On June 28 that year the infamous Stonewall Riots occurred in downtown Manhattan. Shortly after 3 am police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar and club. They were legally justified, with the excuse that the establishment was serving liquor without a license, but it was commonly known that the real motivation behind the raid was homophobia.
The police initially arrested the staff of the bar, but they went further and arrested three drag queens and a lesbian woman. The arrests of the patrons of the club sparked outrage among the crowd and incited the riot. The Stonewall Riots were the beginning of the end of LGBT submission to mistreatment, many LGBT activist organizations formed as a result of the raid and the riot are still in place today. Since the Stonewall Riots, a lot has changed with regard to gay-straight interaction. One year after the riots marked the first annual Pride Parade, celebrating LGBT individuals, in 1973 homosexuality was removed from the list of officially recognized mental disorders. In 1978 Harvey Milk, of California, became the first openly man to be elected to a public office, in 1987, Barney Frank became the first openly gay member of Congress.
In 2000, Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Just this summer the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal across the country with an S-to-4 vote. Schools across the country are creating programs that help LGBT youth be comfortable with themselves and the world around them. However, despite the seemingly impressive progress, there is still more progress necessary before gay and straight people are seen as equals politically and socially. (Caron and Hanney) In modern American society, gay people do not live with ideal circumstances a huge threat and fear in the lives of gay people is hate crime. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation‘s Research Overview of Hate Crimes and Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People, “A hate crime or bias-motivated crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is.
While an act of violence against any individual is always a tragic event, violent crimes based on prejudice have a much stronger impact because the motive behind the crime is to terrorize an entire group or community” (Marzullo and Libman) Living with constant fear of being attacked is a unique terror that is much more prevalent for gay people than it is for straight people. The social forces that motivate this fear for gay people are one element that creates an ongoing inequality among different sexual orientations. Straight privilege shields straight people from experiencing the same fear and de jure discrimination that gay people do. Threats of hate crime are not just a social issue “Twenty states have no laws on the books for hate crimes specifically targeting LGBT individuals. In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded federal hate crime laws to include gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Our nation’s slow progress for recognizing hate crimes against homosexuals and creating legislation to fix it allowed gays to be victims of crime for a very long time, and is still unresolved another fear for some homosexual Americans is employment discrimination. While there are federal laws that protect employees in federal positions from discrimination based on sexual orientation, in 29 states private companies are still able to fire an employee based only on the fact that they are homosexual. If such an event were to occur, the fired gay employee would not be entitled to access legal recourse a gay employee of a private company, Jason, age 25, eloquently explained, “”You’re at-will employment. So they could point blank and say I don’t want a gay person working under me. I’m going to let you go I’m not saying that my managers would do that, but you never know.”
No straight people ever fear being fired on the basis of their sexual orientation, I know the list is becoming quite long, but we have not yet covered all the types of discrimination that homosexuals face in America. Yet another type of discrimination homosexuals suffer from is social discrimination. A few years ago a gay couple in Oregon was denied a wedding cake by a bakery for their same-sex marriage, in the end, the bakery ended up paying fines at the hands of the government to cover their actions, this instance shows the mistreatment of homosexuals that still exists. American legislature is hypocritical in that it is said to be based strictly on the Constitution but actually does delineate at times. “The Equal Protection Clause (EPC) of the 14th Amendment declares that ‘No State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’
This guarantee of equal protection is one of the most profound and important statements in the American Constitution” (Parker) Though this is the legal requirement for people in the United States, it is often not followed If the law were followed strictly, there would be absolutely no difference in the legislation regarding homosexual and heterosexual people. America is not alone when it comes to de facto discrimination against homosexuals In 2011 in Queensland, England a landmark defense was used in court on behalf of a man who killed his gay friend after the gay man made a move on him After killing his gay friend, the man went to court and was not charged with murder, but with manslaughter. The defense argued that the unwanted homosexual sexual advance warranted the violent response of the straight man. “‘That an unwanted gay sexual advance can be considered sufficient provocation for a brutal and sustained attack is a disturbing example of entrenched social biases favoring straight men,’ wrote David Donaldson in an essay exploring the homosexual advance defense in the latest issue of Overland.”
The extreme bias against homosexuals in court cases and decisions is a prime example of the continued inequality between homosexuals and heterosexuals. One hindrance to the gay rights movement in America is the exceptional progress here in comparison to other countries. “The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and lntersex Association, or ILGA, lists 75 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people,,,” (76crimesicom) According to the blog that lists all the countries that ban homosexual relationships, there are actually 79 countries on this list. Often in arguments about gay rights people use this as a defense for America. They argue that at least people are allowed to legally be together in same-sex relationships in this country, however, referring back to the.
Constitution, the fight for equality has an end goal of no disparities between the treatment and legal rights of homosexuals earlier this week I received a package from Amazon with the brand new gay pride flag I ordered to decorate my dorm wall. My roommate mentioned that her conservative Connecticut parents are opposed to same-sex relationships and asked me if 1 would mind taking my flag off the wall when they visit next month. I will not be removing my flag from the wall when they come, and if they have a problem with that, they do not have to come into our room. The fact that it is 2015 and there is still discrimination against homosexuals is appalling “Friday’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was a major victory for LGBT couples. But they can still legally be discriminated against in much of the country in in most states their employers can fire them. Their landlords can evict them, they can also be denied service by hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. They can even be denied credit and excluded from juries (CNN Money) America likes to think it is a progressive country, but truly we have lots of work to do.