It’s only been a little under a month since the landmark Supreme Court ruling opened the doors for same-sex marriage in all 50 states. And since then, the fires of discrimination and prejudice are still burning brightly. Oh, some people are busy talking about how a decision that affects two people they don’t even know infringes on their rights. Thankfully, we live in a country where things can’t be decided based on a majority religion.
But setting aside marriage, there are plenty of areas for us to fight for. Even if you’re not thinking about getting married yet, there are issues that affect you as you grow up, go into the workforce, and even when you start looking for suitable housing.
In 29 states, you can be denied service at a hotel or another establishment, simply because of your sexual orientation. Yes, that’s right: you can get legally married, but if the hotel doesn’t want you to sleep there with your new spouse, they don’t have to allow it. This is the case even after gay marriage is now legalized in all states. Some say that it’s perfectly fine to discriminate along these lines. However, if a sign outside a hotel said “We only serve men” or “Asians only, please”, that would be absolutely unacceptable. What if there was a sign that only atheists could stay at the hotel, and Christians had to go somewhere else? Christians would take to every radio show possible to decry such a thing. Yet it’s OK to do this to gay people?
This is where people say, “Well, you choose to be this way!” We disagree with the idea that one chooses their sexual orientation. Some people are gay, some people are straight, others are bisexual, and some are transgendered. The idea that anyone would choose to visibly identify with a group that’s targeted for a wide array of discriminatory practices is absurd. Why would anyone want to risk being bullied, alienated, denied jobs, pushed out of clubs, refused services, or even viciously beaten if they could avoid it?
Not only can you be denied service at hotels, but you can also be legally fired from your job. Of course, a lot of you are just starting a job. In the past, we’ve written about how it may be wise to wait before “coming out”. We regret that we even have to create articles like that, but sometimes you have to play smart instead of baring everything about your life. People can and will categorize and classify you, and upper management doesn’t always take your side even when they should. If they can get away with leaving things the way they are, believe us…they will.
Let’s talk about housing a little more. Good housing is the key to a good life. If you don’t like where you live, you won’t be happy for very long. Sure, you might be able to put up with things a little longer, but sooner or later you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. If your landlord finds out that you are gay or involved in a same sex marriage, they can evict you without facing charges of discrimination. Even if they can’t legally harm you, they can make your life difficult through other legal loopholes. For example, they may try to raise your rent, introduce more scheduled inspections or maintenance, or allow construction all day and into the evening to disturb you. It’s their property, and in many states the power rests with the landlord instead of the tenant. This is why it’s very important to read up on your state’s tenant laws.
It’s not all doom and gloom, of course: more people are learning that discrimination is just wrong, period. We all have our biases. Unfortunately, we’ve heard some of our fellow LGBT buddies say some pretty awful things out of frustration and anger. While we understand how frustrating it can be, it’s important to avoid falling into a trap of negativity.
Let’s focus on the victories: over 400 companies believed in marriage equality, and weren’t afraid to publicly support the decision. Millions of people changed their profile picture in support of marriage equality. These are great things, powerful things, and things to be celebrated as much as possible. We just believe that it’s important to be as realistic as possible, because the fight is long from over.