Civics For Change: LGBTQ+ Justice
One in five Gen-Z adults identifies as LGBTQ+, according to the data from a Gallup poll conducted last year. According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of Americans generally feel that the legality of same-sex marriage is a good thing for society. The future is here, and it’s queer.
Despite this, some lawmakers are ignoring the will of both the general public and a growing demographic of constituents by introducing legislation that would make it harder to exist as a queer person in America. Currently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is tracking over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills nationwide. The bills aim to restrict queer Americans from accessing basic liberties every individual deserves: healthcare, public accommodations, education, free speech and expression, accurate identification cards, and other basic rights.
The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, less than a decade ago. Even with the majority of the population in agreement that it should remain legal, homophobia and transphobia are still rampant in our government, the media, Hollywood, and popular culture. Before the wave of recent legislation targeting the LBGTQ+ community, the legal protections for the aforementioned basic liberties were already limited, and vary state by state. Twenty-nine states have policies that negatively shape queer people’s lives, experiences, and equality. These are the same states where lawmakers are proposing and introducing the majority of the anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
Queer people have a right to a life free from fear and hatred. We deserve to have a chance to thrive, instead of watching out for the next piece of life-altering legislation that makes it harder to simply survive. Fifty-four years after Stonewall and 42 years from the start of the AIDS epidemic, our nation’s seen and unseen history has been defined by queer activists and movements aiming for us to be really seen as we are: human beings looking to live long, happy, and peaceful lives.
Unfortunately, the legislation targeting the queer community will only do the opposite, leading to more loss in the queer community: loss of lives, loss of dignity, and a loss of basic liberties. Wondering what you can do? There is a piece of legislation that would federally protect the basic rights of LGBTQ+ folks, the Equality Act, which has made it through the House of Representatives and is now awaiting Senate approval. To take action, use this resource from The Human Rights Campaign to contact your Senator and urge them to support the Equality Act.
Protecting the basic liberties of the queer community is one issue among many driving young voters to the polls with historic turnout. Be sure to stay tuned for more upcoming installments in this mini-series!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mia Matthews is the Program and Communications Manager at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. In her position, she works with student leaders and in communications surrounding their work. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida.