June 26th, 2015 will go down as a momentous day for the U.S. when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. This decision arrived, fittingly enough, on the two-year anniversary the same court struck down DOMA. We won.
But the fight is far from over.
As a cisgender gay male I am incredibly proud of this moment, but am keenly aware of the fact that the LGBTQ community is not done fighting.
Marriage equality was a simple, easy-to-understand and marketable effort the community could all rally behind. The remaining battles are more focused, harder to categorize and far more complicated.
Today there are 28 states in which individuals can be fired, denied a promotion or raise or refused a job for being gay. In addition there are 31 states in which transgender individuals can be discriminated in the workplace on the basis of their gender identity.
Remember that there is not a single federal law that protects LGBTQ individuals in the workplace.
This could be solved with federal legislation that the Human Rights Campaign
calls The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). It would would provide “basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
LGBTQ youth homelessness
One of the most overlooked fights in the LGBTQ community is the battle to protect our youth from homelessness.
“[LGBTQ youth] are more at risk once they are homeless for sexual abuse and exploitation. There is a high incidence of depression, suicide initiations, and other mental health disorders among all youth experiencing homelessness, and chronic physical health conditions are common as are high rates of substance abuse disorders.”
There are an estimated 267,000 LGBTQ adult undocumented immigrants in the United States today. Undocumented LGBTQ immigrants face the combined struggle of being both an immigrant and LGBTQ.
Often LGBTQ immigrants flee their home country because of discrimination and violence on the basis of their gender or sexual identity, only to arrive in the United States and face similar treatment.
Jennicet Gutiérrez, the heckler shut down by President Obama this week, highlighted the unique challenges and abuse faced by trans immigrants in an op-ed for Washington Blade:
“Immigrant trans women are 12 times more likely to face discrimination because of our gender identity. If we add our immigration status to the equation, the discrimination increases. Transgender immigrants make up one out of every 500 people in detention, but we account for one out of five confirmed sexual abuse cases in ICE custody.”
Let us celebrate this victory for marriage equality. Let us however not forget all the battles we have left to fight.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.