The Long Grueling Battle for Equality and LGBT Rights
February 29, 2016
Over the years, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights in the United States of America have steadily evolved one state at a time. You would be marveled at how LGBT rights have changed in 2015 across the United States. The proudest moment for the community was when Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that no single union is more profound than the other. This was during a landmark ruling that allowed same-sex couples to wed all throughout the country. But it was not always like this. There was a time when your sexual orientation could get you charged and arrested under state sodomy laws. To better appreciate how long and grueling the Gay rights journey has been, it would be better to take a step back in time.
History of Gay Rights in America
The first embers of a modern gay rights movement began in 1969, New York City. At that time, homosexuality was not only considered illegal but also as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. It all began when police raided a Gay bar known as The Stonewall Inn. The local patrons did not take this lying down and struggled to put up a fight. It was these riots that ignited the spark which saw Gay rights movements turn into a significant protest for equality and acceptance.
It was not until 1973 when the movement’s efforts began to bear fruit. It was the year when the American Psychiatric Association struck homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This single act laid down the cornerstones for what was to be quite an uphill battle for LGBT rights. Even the openly gay Harvey Milk made his mark on the political scene of San Francisco in 1976.
Things seemed to be going a tad too well. Just a year later, Miami passed a civil rights ordinance making sexual orientation discrimination illegal. Sadly, the people launched a response which overturned the law, leaving many gay activists disappointed. However, Harvey Milk sponsored the civil rights bill in 1978 and saw it turned into law, banning all discrimination.
The Journey had many ups and downs, but another major step came in 1993 when the U.S military allowed gays to serve their country in the military. With time, most of the states and jurisdictions slowly lifted bans against protection from discrimination. Justice Anthony Kenneth presided over the case of Romer v. Evans in 1996 where he lifted bans claiming that equality is necessary for a free society.
How LGBT Rights Stand Today
On June 26, 2015, the U.S Supreme Court held what was arguably the most important civil rights case in history. It marked the final hurdle for the LGBT community. The 5-4 ruling in the case of Obergefell V Hodges saw same-sex marriage legalized across the entire United States of America. The ruling declared that any move by conservative states to ban would be totally unconstitutional. After what was almost an entire century battling for their rights, the LGBT activists had capped years of campaigning. The outcome led to scenes of jubilation by exhilarated couples who were eagerly waiting. Even though gay marriage was still legal in 37 states, the rest of the country joined up in what was known as the victory of love.
As the deciding vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that under the Constitution, same-sex couples also seek the same legal treatment in marriage as heterosexual couples. As such, it would disparage their choices and lessen their person hood to deny this right.
Although this barrier has been broken down, there are still several obstacles that lay ahead of the LGBT community. A comprehensive civil rights act is necessary to ensure protection against discrimination, especially in areas like housing, employment, and even adoption.
LGBT rights and Child Adoption
With the exception of Mississippi, adoption of children by same-sex couples is legal all throughout the United States. However, adoption by single LGBT individuals is legal in all jurisdictions. Today, thousands of people in the LGBT community can adopt children and raise them as part of their family without fear of discrimination. This was made possible by the American Civil Liberties Union, which conducted research and laid down some crucial findings. The conclusion was that good parenting is not in any way influenced by sexual orientation but on the ability to create a loving and nurturing environment.
Today, same-sex marriage is the norm in many states and is performed openly. Whether it’s a small civil ceremony or a gigantic public wedding, people have embraced Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgenders as equal members of society. Children who are raised by LGBTs grow up healthy, happy and even well adjusted, just like those raised by heterosexual parents. Some states also grant people the right to change legal gender. This requires reconstructive surgery but allows people to be themselves and at peace, both internally and externally.