Monday, June 29, 2015

The Battle Yet To Come

The Obergefell v Hodges decision on Friday didn't end the battle for gay rights in America any more than Loving v Virginia ended the civil rights battle for black America, and the coming fight will be a lot harder: federal civil rights protections.

Exhilarated by the Supreme Court’sendorsement of same-sex marriage, gay rights leaders have turned their sights to what they see as the next big battle: obtaining federal, state and local legal protections in employment, housing, commerce and other arenas, just like those barring discrimination based on race, religion, sex and national origin.

The proposals pit advocates against many of the same religious conservatives who opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, and who now see the protection of what they call religious liberty as their most urgent task. These opponents argue that antidiscrimination laws will inevitably be used to force religious people and institutions to violate their beliefs, whether by providing services for same-sex weddings or by employing gay men and lesbians in church-related jobs.

Nationally, antidiscrimination laws for gay people are a patchwork with major geographic inequities, said Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute at the School of Law of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Those who don’t live on the two coasts or in the Northeast have been left behind in terms of legal protection,” he said.

At least 22 states bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, and most of them also offer protections to transgender people.

Tennessee is one of the majority of states that do not bar such discrimination. There, in East Nashville, Tiffany Cannon and Lauren Horbal thought they had found the perfect house to share with a friend, and the landlord seemed ready to rent when they applied in April.

Then he called them to ask what their relationship with each other was, Ms. Horbal, 26, recalled.

She said that when the landlord learned that she and Ms. Cannon, 25, were partners, he said, “I’m not comfortable with that.” He refused to process their application, even after they offered to raise their rent by $150, to $700 a month, Ms. Horbal said.

The women, both restaurant workers, are still looking for a place to live.

The hard reality is that while you can now get married in a state like Tennessee or Kentucky of Arkansas or Florida if you're LGBTQ, you can still be fired or denied a place to live because of it. Remember, Gov. Sam Brownback removed protections for LGBTQ workers earlier this year in Kansas.

That national fight still rages on. And if you think that fight will be won with Republican bigots in charge of the House and Senate, dream on.

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