LGBT rights in the United States

rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the United States have evolved in recent decades, with California becoming the first state to legalize same-sex marriage under the California State Supreme Court's decision, In re Marriage Cases, on 15 May 2008, and the United States Supreme Court ruling all same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional under Obergefell v. Hodges on 26 June 2015, and the U.S. Supreme Court further deciding under Bostock v. Clayton County in 2020 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects Americans from being fired by an employer on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, LGBT Americans may still face some legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents, particularly in states with large conservative populations.

And the attacks on queer people just keep coming. We're not paranoid. They really do want us to disappear. ~ Rebecca Gordon
See also:
For those who don’t happen to fall into one of MAGA’s target groups, let me close by paraphrasing Donald Trump: In the end, they’re coming after you. We’re just standing in the way. ~ Rebecca Gordon
Rescind regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, and sex characteristics. The President should direct agencies to rescind regulations interpreting sex discrimination provisions as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, sex characteristics, etc. ~ Jonathan Berry
Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills Are Legalized Segregation. - Outdoor Sign at Glendale United Methodist Church Nashville, TN, in May 2021

Quotes edit

  • If the Supreme Court were to overturn Obergefell, the new federal law guarantees that a same-sex couple who was married in Illinois, for example, would still be recognized as married if they moved to Virginia, which has a ban on same-sex marriage that could be reactivated. But a same-sex couple wishing to be married in Virginia might have to travel out of state to get their marriage license. The Respect for Marriage Act also provides similar protections for interracial marriages. The dynamic could create a challenge for couples who want to get married but can’t afford to travel to another state for the license. That would exclude such couples from accessing the benefits that come with marriage, including inheritance, tax benefits, and the ability to make health care decisions for a spouse who is unable to make them themselves. “You will start to see a real economic justice problem,” Carpenter says.
    Bryan Wilson, who co-founded the Pride Center West Texas in Odessa, Texas, says the Respect for Marriage Act is a win for him and his husband, and other LGBTQ couples who are already married, but worries it doesn’t do enough for young or unmarried people in states like Texas. “I have youth who go, ‘Well, if on the off chance I ever want to get married in about six, seven years, 10 years, 15 years, I’m probably not going to be able to do it here anyway, so I hope I’ve moved to California, New York, or Washington,'” Wilson says.
    “There will be enough respect for marriage when every state in the union, every territory, has legalized it as well as enshrined it in their constitution, that same-sex marriage is allowed,” Wilson adds.For LGBTQ people living in states with dormant bans on the books who are vulnerable to financial insecurity, face discrimination, or struggle with their mental health, overruling Obergefell could cause a different kind of fallout, experts warn. “It would be a deep psychological and emotional blow to a lot of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to be told that even if their state has to recognize a marriage formed out of the state, that their state nonetheless disapproves of their relationship and effectively considers them second class citizens,” says Michael Boucai, a law professor at the University of Buffalo.
  • Sex Discrimination. The Biden Administration, LGBT advocates, and some federal courts have attempted to expand the scope and definition of sex discrimination, based in part on the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. Bostock held that “an employer who fires someone simply for being homosexual or transgender” violates Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination. The Court explicitly limited its holding to the hiring/firing context in Title VII and did not purport to address other Title VII issues, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes, or other laws prohibiting sex discrimination. Notably, the Court focused on the status of the employees and used the term “transgender status” rather than the broader and amorphous term “gender identity.”
    * Restrict the application of Bostock. The new Administration should restrict Bostock’s application of sex discrimination protections to sexual orientation and transgender status in the context of hiring and firing.
    *Withdraw unlawful “notices” and “guidances.” The President should direct agencies to withdraw unlawful “notices” and “guidances” purporting to apply Bostock’s reasoning broadly outside hiring and firing.
    *Rescind regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, and sex characteristics. The President should direct agencies to rescind regulations interpreting sex discrimination provisions as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, sex characteristics, etc.
    *Direct agencies to refocus enforcement of sex discrimination laws. The President should direct agencies to focus their enforcement of sex discrimination laws on the biological binary meaning of “sex.”
  • Provide robust protections for religious employers. America’s religious diversity means that workplaces include people of many faiths and that many employers are faith-based. Nevertheless, the Biden Administration has been hostile to people of faith, especially those with traditional beliefs about marriage, gender, and sexuality. The new Administration should enact policies with robust respect for religious exercise in the workplace, including under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), Title VII, and federal conscience protection laws.
  • Provide Robust Accommodations for Religious Employees. Title VII requires reasonable accommodations for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, observances, or practices unless it poses an undue hardship on the employer’s business. These accommodation protections also apply to issues related to marriage, gender, and sexuality.
  • And the attacks on queer people just keep coming. In May 2023, the Human Rights Campaign listed anti-queer bills introduced and passed in this year alone:
    • Over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, a record;
    • Over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people, also a record; and
    • A record 74 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted so far this year, including:
    • Laws banning gender affirming care for transgender youth: 16
    • Laws requiring or allowing misgendering of transgender students: 7
    • Laws targeting drag performances: 2
    • Laws creating a license to discriminate: 3
    • Laws censoring school curricula, including books: 13
    We’re not paranoid. They really do want us to disappear.
  • It’s not all that uncommon today for right-wing Christians in the United States to publicly demand that LGBT people be put to death. As recently as Pride month (June) * Though they’re starting to say the quiet part out loud, even in this country, they’ve been so much less careful in Africa for decades now.
    It’s not all that uncommon today for right-wing Christians in the United States to publicly demand that LGBT people be put to death. As recently as Pride month (June) of last year, in a sermon that went viral on Tik-Tok, Pastor Joe Jones of Shield of Faith Baptist Church in Boise, Idaho, called for all gay people to be executed. Local NBC and CBS TV stations, along with some national affiliates, saw fit to amplify Jones’s demand to “put them to death. Put all queers to death” by interviewing him in prime time.
    In keeping with right-wing propaganda that treats queer people as child predators, Jones sees killing gays as the key to preventing the sexual abuse of children. “When they die,” he said, “that stops the pedophilia. It’s a very, very simple process.” (The reality is that most sexual abuse of children involves male perpetrators and girl victims and happens inside families.)
    Though American “Christians” like Jones may be years away, if ever, from instituting the death penalty for queer people here, they have already been far more successful in Africa. On May 29, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed perhaps the world’s harshest anti-LGBT law, criminalizing all homosexual activity, providing the death penalty for “serial offenders,” and according to the Reuters news agency, for the “transmission of a terminal illness like HIV/AIDS through gay sex.” It also “decrees a 20-year sentence for ‘promoting’ homosexuality.”
    While Uganda’s new anti-gay law may be the most extreme on the continent, more than 30 other African countries already outlaw homosexuality to varying degrees.
  • Now, however, there’s a new extermination campaign stalking this country that would definitely include me among its targets: the right-wing Republican crusade against “sexual predators” and “groomers,” by which they mean LGBTQI+ people. (I’m going to keep things simple here by just writing “LGBT” or “queer” to indicate this varied collection of Americans who are presently a prime target of the right wing in this country.)
    You may think “extermination campaign” is an extreme way to describe the set of public pronouncements, laws, and regulations addressing the existence of queer people here. Sadly, I disagree. Ambitious would-be Republican presidential candidates across the country, from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the less-known governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, are using anti-queer legislation to bolster their primary campaigns. For Florida, it started in July 2022 with DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education act (better known as his “Don’t Say Gay” law), which mandated that, in the state’s public schools, “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.
  • In April 2023, DeSantis doubled down, signing a new law that extended the ban all the way up through high school. Florida teachers at every level now run the very real risk of losing their jobs and credentials if they violate the new law. And queer kids, who are already at elevated risk of depression and suicide, have been deprived of the kind of affirming space that, research shows, greatly reduces those possibilities.
    Is Florida an outlier? Not really. Other states have followed its lead in restricting mentions of sexual orientation or gender identity in their public schools. By February of this year, 42 such bills had been introduced in a total of 22 states and are creating a wave of LGBT refugees.
    But the attacks against queer people go well beyond banning any discussion of gayness in public schools. We’re also witnessing a national campaign against trans and nonbinary people that, in effect, aims to eliminate such human beings altogether, whether by denying their very existence or denying them the medical care they need. This campaign began with a focus on trans youth but has since widened to include trans and nonbinary people of all ages.
  • What I failed to emphasize then—perhaps because I thought it went without saying (but it certainly needs to be said today)—is that fascism is almost by definition deadly. It needs enemies on whom it can focus the steaming rage of its adherents, and it is quite content for that rage to lead to literal extermination campaigns.
    The creation of such enemies invariably involves a process of rhetorical dehumanization. In fascist propaganda, target groups cease to be actual people, becoming instead vermin, viruses, human garbage, communists, Marxists, terrorists, or, in the case of the present attacks on LGBT people, pedophiles and groomers. As fascist movements develop, they bring underground streams of hatred into the light of “legitimate” political discourse.
    All those decades ago, I suggested that the Christian fundamentalists represented an incipient fascist force. I think it’s fair to say that today’s Make America Great Again crew has inherited that mantle, successfully incorporating right-wing Christianity into a larger proto-fascist movement. All the elements of classic fascism now lurk there: adulation of the leader, subordination of the individual to the larger movement, an appeal to mythical past glories, a not-so-subtle embrace of white supremacy, and discomfort with anything or anyone threatening the “natural” order of men and women. You have only to watch a video of a Trump rally to see that his is a mass (even if not a majority) movement.
  • Why should it matter whether Donald Trump’s MAGA movement and the Republican Party he’s largely taken over represent a kind of fascism? The answer: because the logic of fascism leads so inexorably to the politics of extermination. Describing his MAGA movement as fascism makes it easier to recognize the existential threat it truly represents—not only to a democratic society but to specific groups of human beings within it.
    I know it may sound alarmist, but I think it’s true: proto-fascist forces in this country have shown that they are increasingly willing to exterminate queer people, if that’s what it takes to gain and hold on to power. If I’m right, that means all Americans, queer or not, now face an existential threat.
    For those who don’t happen to fall into one of MAGA’s target groups, let me close by paraphrasing Donald Trump: In the end, they’re coming after you. We’re just standing in the way.
  • Avery told us how gay people used to not be allowed to touch. At bars, clubs, wherever, you’d be arrested for touching. So people danced with two feet of space between them and scattered even farther when the cops came. But he said they took up a lot of space when they were dancing, used their whole bodies.
    • Reina Gossett and Grace Dunham, talk at Williams College, April 30th, 2015
  • I saw a Gay Liberation Front flier from the 70’s that said: “Touch One Another.” I didn’t quite understand its meaning until Grace and I were at Jewel’s, and Avery told us about the no-touch laws.

    Then, we understood that the state had existed in the space between two people. I thought about how law creates forcefields between us, isolating us from the touch we need and want. I thought about the after-life of these laws, the way that forcefields still exist all around us and between us.

    It was profound, and scary, to think about about the way those anti-touch laws still affect my experience of myself.

    • Reina Gossett and Grace Dunham, talk at Williams College, April 30th, 2015
  • Today the Left is threatening the tax-exempt status of churches and charities that reject woke progressivism. They will soon turn to Christian schools and clubs with the same totalitarian intent.
    The next conservative President must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors. This starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”), diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”), gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.
    • Kevin Roberts, "Foreword: A Promise to America", in Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise: 2025 Presidential Transition Project (2023),[4], edited by Paul Dans & Steven Groves, Washington: The Heritage Foundation, paperback, p. 4-5
  • Protect faith-based grant recipients from religious liberty violations and maintain a biblically based, social science–reinforced definition of marriage and family. Social science reports that assess the objective outcomes for children raised in homes aside from a heterosexual, intact marriage are clear: All other family forms involve higher levels of instability (the average length of same-sex marriages is half that of heterosexual marriages); financial stress or poverty; and poor behavioral, psychological, or educational outcomes.
    For the sake of child well-being, programs should affirm that children require and deserve both the love and nurturing of a mother and the play and protection of a father. Despite recent congressional bills like the Respect for Marriage Act that redefine marriage to be the union between any two individuals, HMRE [Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education] program grants should be available to faith-based recipients who affirm that marriage is between not just any two adults, but one man and one unrelated woman.
  • The President should immediately revoke Executive Order 1402041 and every policy, including subregulatory guidance documents, produced on behalf of or related to the establishment or promotion of the Gender Policy Council and its subsidiary issues. Abolishing the Gender Policy Council would eliminate central promotion of abortion (“health services”); comprehensive sexuality education (“education”); and the new woke gender ideology, which has as a principal tenet “gender affirming care” and “sex-change” surgeries on minors. In addition to eliminating the council, developing new structures and positions will have the dual effect of demonstrating that promoting life and strengthening the family is a priority while also facilitating more seamless coordination and consistency across the U.S. government.

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