I understand that it is the marriage issue that lit the spark to create this new LGBT movement. It is that basic civil right, to marry the one you love, that has brought so many new faces to the fight for LGBT equality. This is the silver-lining on the dark cloud that is proposition 8.
The fight for same-sex marriage is incredibly important work that must continue until we achieve full marriage equality in all 50 states. However, I am afraid that, with this new surge of LGBT activism focused so intensely on marriage equality, we are trying the build the house before we have laid the foundation.
Today, in 2008, we, as LGBT people, can still be fired from our jobs and evicted from our apartments in a majority of the United States simply because we are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The need for basic civil rights, such as a bill protecting LGBT people from employment and housing discrimination, must be a top priority of our new civil rights movement. We must be careful not to focus our efforts solely on marriage equality. Marriage is incredibly important, and a fight worth fighting, but unless we are secure in our jobs and our housing, the right to marry does little for our community.
I am not saying that we should not fight for same-sex marriage. I worked at MassEquality for years, defending same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. When our families are being attacked and anti-gay marriage amendments are knocking on our doors, we must fight back. We cannot let anymore anti-gay marriage amendments pass in this country. Enough is enough.
However, now that we are on the offensive, and I seriously do believe that on November 4th the LGBT community moved from a defensive position to an offensive position, we need make sure our focus in on the basic civil rights that our community still has yet to achieve.
We must keep our eye on the big picture. We cannot focus solely on marriage equality. We are a talented community and we know how to multitask. We must fight for full equality for LGBT people:
Employment and housing non-discrimination legislation that protects all LGBT people (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.)
Hate-crimes legislation that protects all LGBT people
The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
Funding for LGBT youth, seniors, HIV/AIDS
Inclusion of LGBT issues in school curriculum (health class, history, English)
Full marriage equality in all 50 states
Equal adoption rights for same-sex couples
This is our time. This is our fight for full equality for LGBT people.