Gay Rights By: Will Thompson

Civil Rights means citizens’ personal liberties, or freedoms, are guaranteed by law. Today, in the United States, many gays are discriminated based on their sexual orientation and do not have privileges that others have access to. Although, by law, gay marriage is legal, there continues to be job discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, which is limiting the types of available job and their quality of life. In an article, from the Chicago Tribune, it states how gays are being fired from their jobs due to their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, “There is no federal nondiscrimination law that protects workers based on sexual orientation.” (Chicago Tribune). There is a law allowing gay marriage, but they are not protected or treated equally based on their sexual orientation and it is limiting certain people from the types of jobs they have. Davarian L. Baldwin, a professor from Trinity college who is an activist for gay rights, states, “We've got fairly massive evidence that discrimination against gay people is pervasive and has a substantial impact on them, so it's very much of a concern” (Exhibitions). There is clear evidence that argues the discrimination and unfair treatment of gays is a concern in the United States because it is affecting people's jobs, lives, and families. Today, many protests and movements supporting gay rights are continuing to make positive impacts and bring more attention on the issue. Clearly, gays are being discriminated against and their freedoms are being are not guaranteed by law, which is concerning because they are American citizens who should have access to the same civil liberties.

Similar to the civil rights issue with gay rights today, in 1954-1968, during the Civil Rights Movement, many blacks also faced discrimination and unequal privileges/opportunities regarding their jobs. Due to the Jim Crow Laws, the black community was segregated from whites and faced unequal treatment similar to what gays are experiencing today. Both the black and gay community unfairly lost their jobs and privileges due to their race and sexual orientation. An article, from the New York Public Library, states how due to race, many blacks were threatened to lose their jobs, which was a “grand struggle for freedom .... Even with threats of job loss and violence, the largely poor black masses…” (The Williams Institute). Prior to and during the Civil Rights movement, many blacks were treated unfairly and lost their jobs because of their race. Similarly, this is also the case for the gay community today in the United States. According to multiple studies from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, “between 15 and 43 percent of LGBT people have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace as a result of their sexual orientation.” (The Williams Institute). Many gays have faced some type of harassment or discrimination from their job in the U.S.. During the Civil Rights Movement, the black community faced similar struggles and oppression the gay community is facing in the United States today. Harassment, discrimination, and unequal treatment regarding their jobs is limiting equal access to opportunities and directly denying personal liberties.

Civil Rights Movement

Although both the Civil Rights Movement and Gay Rights are very similar, many may argue that they are different. The Civil Rights Movement was much more violent and deadly compared to what the gay community is facing today. During the Civil Rights Movement, the Jim Crow Laws encouraged “state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the Southern United States.” (Jim Crow Museum). The Civil Rights Movement and the black community faced Jim Crow Laws that segregated and divided the black and white community, while the gay community doesn't have any federal laws segregating them. Also, during the Civil Rights Movement, there is an increased number of deaths and violence reported. There are countless incidents of brutal violence against the black community, such as, “Lamar Smith was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man… George Lee, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered... “ (Civil Rights Memorial) Many in the black community faced brutal violent deaths, while there are almost no cases of the gay community facing death due to others. The gay community may face threats because of their sexual orientation and there might be a few cases of deaths, but during The Civil Rights Movement thousands of blacks faced much more brutal deaths, the black community also had almost no rights, and they were treated overall so much worse to how the gay community is treated to day. Although the Civil Rights Movement can be argued to be much more violent and different from the gay rights movement, there are far more ways the two historical events are similar.

Other citizens around the world can help the gay community by participating in peaceful protests to fight for equality and to stop discrimination. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is an organization that has a long history of defending the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. The ACLU organizes and participates in many peaceful protests while bringing more LGBT cases and advocacy initiatives than any other national organization. In order to make a difference, it is important to continue to find positive ways to support the LGBT community, such as taking a stand, promoting positive conversations, and volunteering for events in a surrounding community.



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