Amid the celebration over the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding marriage equality, there has also been a wave of criticism from the community. It’s important to strike a balance between criticism and celebration.
It’s true that marriage equality is emphasized over other issues that still need to be addressed. However, it’s not out of line to be worried that because this passed, other issues that impact the LGBT community (like the fact that conversion therapy is still legal in most states, or that LGBT youth face disproportionate levels of homelessness and substance abuse because of the oppression they face, or we are as a country still pretty atrocious about transgender issues, just to name a few) will be swept under the rug and ignored.
People need to make sure they’re not just assuming that everything is fixed because people can get married. Compared to marriage equality, the conversation and legislation surrounding the other issues that impact us has been woefully inadequate.
That said, it’s a mistake to throw people who needed this under the bus. During the AIDS crisis people were being dangerously marginalized from services and legal protection in their relationships. There were issues ranging from people being prevented from visiting their dying partners in the hospital to having rights to retain property they had with their partners. Those afflicted were fatally sidelined, and partners of the dying faced eviction due to legal loopholes. Not being able to get married has also impacted other marginalized groups, like poor people or immigrants – people who have needed access to the legal benefits of marriage but who have been systematically denied these privileges.
On top of that, the Supreme Court has now established the LGBT community as a class entitled to legal protection and equal access to the same rights and privileges enjoyed by the rest of the population. Thanks to this precedent, it will now be easier for members of the LGBT community to take issues such as housing and employment discrimination. What this means is that it may be easier going forward for the issues that have been sidelined thus far to be addressed appropriately.
Bottom line: it’s obviously okay and important to address other issues in the LGBT community and the fact that a lot of them have been sidelined because of the mainstream centering of marriage equality, but it’s not advisable to do so at the expense of the people who needed this to happen.
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