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Let’s not debate, Stop the Hate!

Image courtesy of Ted Eytan , Flickr (http://bit.ly/1WQwniI)

The United States of America has a very rich history when it comes to discrimination. There is no denying it; our country was born with discrimination. The political tensions over the last several years have only confirmed that discrimination is still alive and thriving today. Throughout history, there have been major civil rights victories for gender and race equality, but none for LGBT individuals until June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court affirmed the right to marriage equality.

With marriage equality legalized in the United States, many people thought we were done, and everything could go back to “normal.” People asked, “since we have marriage equality now, why does Gay Pride even matter?” Gay Pride matters because it’s not just about marriage. Gay Pride matters because LGBT individuals were, and continue to be persecuted for their sexual orientation or identity. Gay Pride matters because our fight for full equality has just begun.

Religious Freedom Laws

Religious freedom laws were first introduced in 1993 when Bill Clinton signed the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Following the affirmation of marriage equality at the federal level, many states began proposing religious freedom laws at a much faster rate. What is a religious freedom law? A religious freedom law is any law that grants individuals, businesses, governments, and other organizations to openly discriminate against LGBT individuals with no risk of punishment as long as it was done based on religious related objections.

With religious freedom laws in place, pharmacists could refuse to dispense a patient’s HIV medication, doctors could refuse treatment to a patient, lawyers could refuse service to an innocent client, loans could be denied to a credit worthy individual, employers could legally fire an employee, all for the simple fact that they are, or even worse, perceived as an LGBT individual. This would be disastrous for any individual to go through, let alone 9 million. No individual should be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, disability, or other distinguishing attribute.

Bathroom Laws

Men use the men’s room. Ladies use the women’s room. What could be more simple than that? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple according to North Carolina politicians. On March 23, 2016, the North Carolina Governor signed into law the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act. This is a bathroom law that states individuals must use the restroom that correlates with their birth gender, regardless if they are transsexual. The bill also overturns an anti-LGBT discrimination ordinance that had been passed by Charlotte, prevents local governments in the state from enacting similar ordinances, and prevents cities from raising their minimum wages higher than that of the state.

Other states began taking North Carolina’s bathroom law by example and proposed similar laws at an alarming rate. Many members of the public, including the presidential candidates began an outcry, stating men shouldn’t be in the women’s restroom. A Target store was the victim of a bomb in the lady’s room, placed by a man who stated he was trying to protect women from men in the restroom.

There are no known reported cases of a transsexual individual attacking someone in a restroom. There have, however, been many cases of attacks and rapes caused by men who are going to the women’s restroom with ill intent.

Revocation of Marriage Equality

Following the affirmation of marriage equality, many individuals in positions of power refused to perform their duties for same-sex couples or ordered that officials could ignore same-sex couples, failing to meet a now constitutionally protected right. Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses, going to jail until she agreed to allow her staff to issue licenses. Roy Moore, an Alabama Chief Justice ordered probate courts to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling and deny all same-sex marriage license requests. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and Rick Perry are all Republican candidates running for President of the United States, all of which are opposed to marriage equality and have made comments about removing the rights of LGBT people.

Many argue that allowing same-sex marriage negatively affects the sanctity of marriage and that it is against God. Marriage itself was born as a civil affair governed by the imperial law of the Romans. It wasn’t until the 5th century, when the Roman Empire fell, that the church became involved in what we know as marriage. Marriage was invented so men could pass on their property to their wives, providing for them after death.

Let’s not debate, stop the hate!

By continuing to enact laws that attack LGBT rights, politicians are able to spread discrimination far and wide. Instead of being concerned with protecting our citizens, preventing tax loopholes, providing funding to critical research programs, or negotiating a trade agreement with another country, politicians have decided to attack a minority group. Politicians love to debate issues prior to voting on them. However, in this case, the LGBT community should take action. Contact your Congressman and make your voice heard. Let’s not debate, stop the hate!