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Same-sex marriage legal, but the LGB fight isn’t over

Keegan Williams
Keegan Williams

It’s about time.

On Oct. 6, the Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states to ban same-sex marriages. This decision effectively paved the way for 11 new states to legalize same-sex marriages, including Colorado.

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This rapid momentum in the United States promoting marriage equality is astounding, to say the least. It’s incredible that so much progress happened for the movement in such little time.

The ban on same-sex marriage is a human rights issue that promotes inequality between heterosexuals and homosexuals, so this effort on the federal level is a step in the right direction.

Don’t misunderstand, though. However progressive this movement is, the fight for equality for homosexuals is far from over.

Yes, marriage rights are important, but homosexuals face day-to-day discrimination and harassment which can’t be ignored.

Let’s start with the workplace. A 2013 PEW survey states that 21 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees reported discrimination at their job including hiring, pay and promotions. An even larger number of LGB employees who are out at work were affected, with 37.7 percent of unemployed LGB employees reporting any form of harassment.

Growing up is a tough time for any kid, but homosexual and bisexual youth are not exempt from discrimination either. LGB youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. Questioning youth are three times more likely.

We also can’t forget that many LGB youth struggle with families who reject homosexuality. According to the Trevor Project, LGB youth with families like this are 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide, compared to their LGB peers with accepting families.

Then comes bullying outside of the home. According to the same organization, “Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.”

If this isn’t enough evidence, let’s look at the history of other minority groups.

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Women are still a far less dominant group in society, as most advertising or the recent HeForShe campaign, and subsequent male backlash, shows.

The first gathering regarding women’s rights took place in 1848. Women didn’t gain the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Today, 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women, and one in every four woman will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

Women also still make only 81 cents to a man’s dollar with the same qualifications and experience. This gap is larger for African American and Latina women.

Which brings us to another group that still struggles greatly in the United States: racial minorities.

In 1870, African Americans were given the right to vote. Nearly 100 years later, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was enacted.

Fifty years later, racism is still incredibly prevalent in the United States. There is a wage gap upwards of 30 percent between Caucasian and African American employees.

Additionally, according to the Bureau of Justice, “Of the 7,624 hate crime incidents reported nationwide in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, 34 percent were perpetrated against African Americans, a number and percentage of incidents that has changed little over the past 10 years.”

If these two minority groups are any indicator, the fight for equality takes more than one ground-breaking decision. It takes years upon years. Who knows when, if ever, racial minorities and women will become equal to their more dominant counterparts.

We need everyone on board in the move toward equality. Whether it is for women, racial minorities or the GLBT community, we can’t promote hatred. We have to stand up for one another. Progress will not be made unless everyone is on board.

Yes, same-sex marriage legalization has put this movement on a great path, but there is a lot of work to still be done.

Collegian Columnist Keegan Williams can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @keeganmw.

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