True Equality = Gay Marriage
“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”
-John F. Kennedy.
This quote shows the basis of the generalized fundamental understanding that the people who inhabit the earth are amazingly diverse. Looking back on the history made by the human population, diversity has not been a celebrated thing as it should have been, but rather it has been scorned and mistreated. Those who were seen as inferior became the minorities of the people, and were (and are) treated as such.
Today these minorities include those who identify as LGBT, as they are not awarded the same equal rights and opportunities as their heterosexual and cisgender (meaning a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex) counterparts. Standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, those who identify as LGBT remain widely oppressed as they are not given equal rights in the eyes of the American government. I believe that every person deserves equal rights and opportunities regardless of their sexual orientation, and until marriage equality is achieved in the United States, true equality amongst the people is impossible.
One of the most prominent issues for the LGBT community in the United States is the lack of representation and normalization of the lifestyle both in the media and in everyday life. These things determine how much is known about a particular subject portrayed in the media, and not enough people in the U.S. are properly educated on the subject of homosexuality.
Representation in the media is very important to the reputation of a person or a people these days, and the LGBT community is given a very poor representation. Commercials featuring gay couples are rare, children’s television shows portraying gay couples is almost unheard of, and when a character on television is gay, their role is more than likely “the gay best friend.”
There are few television shows that accurately portray the normal lifestyle of an LGBT family, which means homosexuality will not become as normalized as heterosexuality in the United States. Though there has been much progress made over the years, in order for the LGBT community to command equality, it’s representation must begin to be normalized.
Another key issue that contributes to the oppression of the LGBT community in America is the lack of equal job opportunities for those who identify as gay. As there is no federal law banning the discrimination of workers for their sexual or gender identity, it is legal in 29 states for a person to be fired, denied a job opportunity or promotion, harassed, or otherwise discriminated against simply because they are gay.
According to studies, between 15 and 43% of LGBT people in the U.S. have experienced harassment or discrimination in their workplace, and 90% of transgender people alone have experienced this kind of harassment. About 3.5% of the adult population in the United States identifies as LGBT, making that around 9 million people who fall under the umbrella term “queer.”
All of these people are susceptible to a type of rejection or harassment in the work industry simply because of their sexual orientation. Until there is a non-discrimination law set for sexual/gender orientation, the unfair treatment of LGBT people in the workplace will continue. Without these laws deeming LGBT people equal to the rest, they will continue to be treated as inferior and unequal. In order to promote equality among the American people, those who identify as LGBT must begin to be given equal protection and opportunities as their counterparts.
The final major issue that dehumanizes the LGBT community is the argument over marriage in the 50 states. Since the first legal same-sex marriage in 2001, over half the states have moved away from their former views of “traditional marriage” and adopted full marriage equality. In 13 remaining states however, Michigan included, it is still illegal for a person to marry another of their same sex.
As of today same-sex marriage legalities are determined by the states, but the matter has recently been taken up by the supreme court. If the high court were to rule marriage equality for the 50 states, a major step towards the normalization of the LGBT community will have been made. Equal treatment will begin with the legalization of same-sex marriage, but until that day those who are LGBT will remain a minority group in the United States.
Minority groups throughout history have fought for their rights and won. Huge progress has been made starting with the people who decide that enough is enough, and begin to fight back. With this mindset, racial and gender equality movements have succeeded and been written into law. The fight for equal rights of the LGBT community has become the next minority movement that will not end until marriage equality is present in all 50 states.
Studies show that 30% of LGBT youth attempt suicide around the age of 15, and an LGBT individual is two to six times more likely to commit suicide than a heterosexual. These statistics are greatly influenced by the way LGBT people are treated in the United States, and in giving equal rights and opportunities to the LGBT community these numbers could begin to go down. Until the day that every person is held equal to one another, no one is truly equal.
Link to audio of the essay: https://soundcloud.com/jadeseiler/sets/this-i-believe-audio