The LGBT Movement Must Look Past Gay Marriage

The gay rights movement strives to end all discrimination towards the LGBT community. Gay marriage is a prominent issue in the movement, but other issues need to be considered. Although marriage rights are an important of the movement, it is time for people to shift some of their actions in helping achieve equality to other important issues surrounding gay rights. By focusing on other issues that don‘t get much attention, such as rights in the workplace, stopping hate crimes, and educating our youth, the gay rights movement will take a leap forward.

Although some companies have non-discrimination policies and benefit packages which are inclusive of same-sex partnerships, there is still work to be done in achieving equality in the workplace. Activists and supporters need to make people more aware of how LGBT people are being treated in some work environments. In 29 states it is legal to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. In 39 states one can be fired for being transgender. Not many people are aware of this; supporters of the movement need to publicize that sexual orientation has no bearing on how someone can do their job.  

The passing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act made people aware that the government will not tolerate crimes targeted towards someone because of their sexual orientation. Yet still, the LGBT community often faces similar threats. FBI statistics from 2009 show that nearly 19% of all hate crimes are related to a person's sexual orientation. And that doesn't account for the hate crimes that go unreported. These hate crimes are causing citizens to fear for their lives. They are being put in physical danger because of something that they cannot help. By creating awareness about the cruel acts committed against the LGBT community, the movement will grow.  

We also need to be paying more attention to our youth. Without educating the youth on equality, we will not see change. Supporters need to advocate for programs that make schools safe and bias free. Our schools need clubs and organizations creating interaction and positive discussion between gay and straight students. By having these conversations and learning about their differences, the youth will be empowered by one another and help create the changes we need in order to have an equal society.

There are many aspects to the gay rights that are important to focus on. By making our communities more aware of the aspects other than the issues like gay marriage, we can get closer to achieving the movement's goals. This movement should not just be about passing laws; it should be about changing perceptions and creating complete equality.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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JoEllen Redlingshafer

I am a junior at the University of Dayton majoring in journalism and minoring in political science.

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