A recent story published in The Atlantic characterized the state of LGBTQ rights about half a decade after the Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage as a matter of federal law. For a lot of people, the fight for LGBTQ rights — at least from straight alliance members — ended there.
But for the rest of us, the fight rages on, at least in part because legislators still haven’t figured out what they’re doing, and the Trump administration continues to gut equal rights regulations put into place under Obama.
Federal law does not ban discrimination of the LGBTQ community, but about half of the country thinks it does. That explains a great deal of resentment derived from right-wing free speech advocates and conservative Christian business owners who would prefer to post signs banning gay people from their establishments or simply deny them service when they come inside.
Questions like whether or not LGBTQ should be protected from discrimination in the same way that people are protected based on skin color, gender, age, etc., are still being asked by lawmakers. For many of us, it’s not a question at all. How can anyone justify allowing lessors to deny a lease to someone based on sexual orientation? And yet they do.
The House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent such acts of discrimination early this year. The Equality Act would guarantee equal rights for LGBTQ people — and more importantly, no one would have the option of shouting “religious freedom!” as a loophole for not following the law. Of course the only way it will ever be passed into law is if Democrats win back control of Congress in 2020, retain control of the House of Representatives, and put a Democratic president in Trump’s still-warm seat.
In other words, it’s a long road ahead for LGBTQ equality.
An upcoming Supreme Court case will determine whether or not an employee had the right to terminate the employment of a transgender employee after the employee came out. Judging from the conservative leaning of the current justices, no one’s all that optimistic.
Many conservative groups are still trying to relax LGBTQ protections — aided by the president, who is trying to do the same — while others are trying to find some sort of compromise to protect the community while also granting private businesses and organizations to continue functioning on par with their religious beliefs.
Is compromise important in these struggles? Not really. Either discrimination is legal or it isn’t. How can there be any middle ground?