Discrimination dust-up
by Mark Segal
Feb 03, 2011 | 2024 views | 9 9 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week’s column seems to have kicked up a lot of dust. Titled “LGBT politics 101” (you can read it at www.epgn.com), I honed in on what the LGBT community might focus on as our next priority following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

It was, and is, my view that basic nondiscrimination legislation is the most pressing issue facing the LGBT community nationally — and by the numbers, it is. Some feel that gay marriage should be our prime objective. The reality is that not all LGBT people are in relationships and, regardless of whether you are and if you wish to marry, you can still endure discrimination on the basis of being LGBT with or without a marriage license in most of the United States.

But what struck me most was an example Thomas Walters gave on his blog, which he credits to Ted Martin of Equality Pennsylvania. The scenario goes:

You and your boyfriend get married on a Saturday afternoon, but are denied accommodations at a hotel on Saturday night, when you want to have your honeymoon. On Tuesday, you go to find a bigger apartment, but are told they do not rent to homosexuals, and when the current landlord finds out, she evicts you. On Wednesday, your employer finds out and fires you. By Thursday, you are married, but living in a cardboard box, homeless and without a job.

Regardless of the marriage issue, basic equality is denied to most Americans. It is also the one issue that most Americans of all stripes — even Republicans — support. Of course, marriage equality is important and no one is saying otherwise. But so are our endangered LGBT youth, our seniors and the transgender members of our community. And what about the couples among us with children who need government services? All good issues. The reality is this community is fighting for equality and equality means a level field with all other taxpayers.

History is the best example of the struggle for equality. Look no further than the civil-rights battle in the 1960s. All the issues facing the LGBT community were, at that time, facing the African-American community. Look again at the 1950s and the battles the Jewish community fought to get their youth into medical and law schools. Look at the battle the Irish fought to get into construction and even onto the police forces of many cities.

There are many more examples. But they all relied on the nation’s nondiscrimination law, or fought to be included. Let’s not forget voting rights.

Marriage equality is important, but the rights of a majority of our community cannot be put on hold.

One last point. Like equal rights, marriage equality is a matter of educating the public on what equality means and that they have nothing to fear. Fighting for nondiscrimination is actually the road to marriage equality. They really are the same battle.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media, having recently received the 2010 Columnist of the Year Award from the 2,000-member Suburban Newspapers of America. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 10, 2011

1967: Loving v Virginia: Interracial Marriage

1968: Civil Rights Act

1988: Civil Rights Restoration Act

1991: Civil Rights Act of 191


Ahem - you seem to have elided a few things there Bolton.

Like the Civil rights Act of 1964? Like the executive orders integrating the armed services? like...oh ..perhaps:

Congress enacted civil rights acts in 1866, 1871, 1875, 1957, 1960?

Serious revisionism there.
Todd (Tif) Fernandez
February 07, 2011
There is a push started by EqualityGiving.org that supports this idea.

The project is The American Equality (AEB) Bill. To stimulate this conversation, a bill to give equal civil rights/non-discrimination protections was created.

It's all laid out at eQualityGiving (.org) and on FB under "The American Equality Bill Project")

As for the relevance of the timing of the black history movement, the comments about sequence are off the mark. Racism and homophobia are not the same, and the resistance is very different between them, and as it pertains to marriage.

The reality today is that "equal non-discrimination" offers much less visceral resistance than marriage, and key opponents like the Catholics and Evangelicals have very little power in rallying against us on that front.

Either way, "marriage equality" is either a state-by-state legislative battle, or a Supreme Court battle.

In terms of a national joint movement, the Civil Rights Act IS THE ONLY target we have.

Obama has signaled already his readiness to discuss our "civil Rights" - which he mentioned twice in his post DADT victory email.

I know his folks are willing to discuss it.

We just have to cue it up.

One way to do that is to force HRC and NGLTF to agree to file a comprehensive BILL for it, and start that conversation.

We could even get hearing in the SENATE on that by 2012 if we tried.

If we stopped debates about "marriage" or "equal non-discrimination" which is silly. They're not mutually exclusive, and one is a national legislative battle, and the other a Court case or state-battle.

Surely we can do all of these and divide up the work.

February 06, 2011
Marriage equality and equality in the eyes of the federal government otherwise known as civil rights are a big difference.

Marriage equality would be the nation's religions viewing a m/m or f/f relationship equal to a m/f relationship.

Any time a government allows certain groups to benefit from certain laws based on certain criteria then they are infringing on the civil rights of others. This was dealt with with giving women the right to vote, given black men and women recognition as a whole citizen and not the 3/5ths laws previously followed.

These are rights given to the citizenry by the federal and state governments should and must be given to all its citizenry. Wherever there is injustice and discrimination there will be progress to right these injustices but as long as the individuals discriminated against continue to mix the rights that can or cannot be provided by the federal government and those from the outside sources such as churches, religions, etc then the righting of said wrongs will be hampered.

Until the gay community fight as one voice to get the civil rights afforded to heterosexual couples given to homosexual couples then the fight will continue over a lengthy time.

Give the civil rights to all or none.

Stephanie Donald
February 05, 2011
I disagree that marriage, by itself, is the most pressing issue before the LGBT community. We seem to be all over the proverbial map in scattering our energies when what we really need to do is to concentrate on filing an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would cover all the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. If we spent our time concentrating on that then marriage would simply become a by-product of that effort once it's passed, wouldn't it? Considering the extreme amount of effort we have to put into every single small piece-meal issue that we try to gain headway on then why is full equality such a "forbidden" thing to even discuss? If we're afraid to try and reach for the whole enchilada then what hope do we ever have of attaining marriage equality? Our community has come to remind me of Fagin in David Copperfield begging, "Can I have some more, sir?" Are we so afraid of bullying and too afraid to push forward with what we really need to do?

As of late, as a fellow LGBT writer and columnist, I've become quite disillusioned with our community and the "can't do" attitude we've developed.

It's become a major reason why I believe we will never achieve full equality because we're afraid to ask for it and afraid to stand together for anything anymore.

Stephanie Donald

Charles Stewart
February 04, 2011
Non discrimination would also have dealt with DADT
Bolton Winpenny
February 04, 2011
Correction in my first sentence:

Yes, even republicans like basic equality....
Bolton Winpenny
February 04, 2011
Yes, even republicans like civil rights. But Republicans don't like the government saying who the private sector should employ or who somebody should have living on their property. Non-discrimination laws goes against the core value of all republicans. Marriage Equality only goes against the values of the ultra conservative religious right within the republican party (which is loosing steam) but not the whole republican party. Hence you'd have an easier time getting Marriage Equality (or at least Civil Unions) than non-discrimination. But the leading LGBT organizations of Pennsylvania won't even try.

Your (Ted's) scenario about the homeless married couple is just plain stupid. It simply doesn't happen that way. I have never been discriminated against because I'm gay. Never been tossed out of a hotel, never lost a job, never been denied an apartment. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm just saying it's not nearly as common as you make it sound. Your scenario is simply the same type of fear propaganda you always accuse the republicans of dishing out. The chances of that scenario actually happening is zero. Yes there's a reasonable chance that something within that scenario might come true, but even laws won't prevent it.

Asking for non-discrimination laws is asking for the government to come rescue us. Asking to remove the DOMA laws is asking the government to let us pursue happiness. Face facts, we now live in a republican state. You need to understand the republican viewpoint when you discuss these issues. Insisting that the government should leave you be, is a much easier concept for republicans than asking the government to sway public opinion with big-government laws.

Far, far, far more of us are affected by marriage equality than by non-discrimination. Further, you might consider that the lack of marriage equality is government led oppression. If we could get equality in marriage, it would lead a public revolution of equality and non-discrimination laws would be come less necessary.

Taking your history lesson. African-Americans were always allowed to marry each other, and the U.S. allowed interracial marriage before the other civil rights laws. So if you want to use history as an example, you're doing it backwards.

1967: Loving v Virginia: Interracial Marriage

1968: Civil Rights Act

1988: Civil Rights Restoration Act

1991: Civil Rights Act of 191

Robin Tyler
February 04, 2011
Incremental Equality does not work.

When LBJ told Martin Luther King he did not

have the votes to pass the civil rights bill,

Selma followed. Instead of comparing which 'equality' we should work on next, let us

look toward Egypt, and see a group of people taking on their government in the streets.

When you discuss marriage equality, please remember how many seniors are left with no

social security, lose their partners and

their homes, and how many are thrusted into

poverty because there is no marriage equality.

25% of LGBT people are raising children.

Marriage Equality (and no, civil unions are

like separate but equal water fountains,

used to separate and diminish 'us' from 'then')

will give those families the protection of health insurance if only one partner is working,

etc. etc. So,the example of 2 men marrying,

is one example. I can give you the examples

of thousands of couples denied benefits (including so many who died of AIDS when the

family stepped in) is not accurate. Let us

not reduce marriage equality to honeymoons and

tupperware. It is a civil rights issue, and

as important as all of the other issues.

But we, as a community, should settle for

no less then all civil rights for the LGBT Community. Robin Tyler
Kat, of Reality
February 03, 2011
"You and your boyfriend get married on a Saturday afternoon, but are denied accommodations at a hotel on Saturday night, when you want to have your honeymoon. On Tuesday, you go to find a bigger apartment, but are told they do not rent to homosexuals, and when the current landlord finds out, she evicts you. On Wednesday, your employer finds out and fires you. By Thursday, you are married, but living in a cardboard box, homeless and without a job."

Best concise summation of the flaw of all-gay-marriage-all-the-time EVER!