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Saturday, July 19, 2014
Beyond Marriage Equality
In the modern LGBT movement, we are setting ourselves up for the same fate with marriage legalization. Much of the focus of our movement is to legitimize homosexual marriage, and outside of that we see a few anti-discrimination laws, but rarely do we see in the mainstream other purposes of our movement.
This puts us in a position which may be counterproductive post-legalization - which, we can agree, is only a matter of time. There are many outlets of oppression for queer individuals, and marriage is the only one which is viewed as significant in mainstream media.
For example, there is practically no mainstream movement lobbying for laws protecting our transgender friends when they employ bathrooms marked for their preferred gender. In several states, transgender individuals are not allowed to use bathrooms matching their gender identity, and this provides an even more complicated and problematic conundrum for transgender students. Legislation mandating gender-neutral bathrooms might solve these issues, but you see very little discussion for such legislature and its unpopular ideals. This is in part a function of the movement’s focus on male homosexuals and putting less emphasis on other queers.
Another example of oppression outside of marriage law could be anti-discrimination law. Despite widespread discrimination in hiring/firing (especially among queer youth), we don’t see much of a movement rallying for passing laws protecting ourselves. That’s not to say these laws don’t get passed, but there’s much less media coverage of these bills. Why? Well, it’s simply less sensationable. With catchy phrases like “love is love” and potentially humorous sexual undertones, it’s much easier to market news about marriage than about more mundane things like workers’ rights.
One of the modern-day feminist movement’s biggest focuses is the wage gap - the fact that the median salary for women is about 77% of the median male salary among full-time workers in the United States as of 2009. However, there is little movement for closing the wage gap between gay and heterosexual men, which can range up to 20% by some measures, nor the wage gap between transgender and cisgender people, often passing 40%. Interestingly, the difference between gay and straight women is not statistically significant. To extend the womens’-suffrage-homosexual-marriage analogy, one might think that in future years, there will be more support on closing the wage gap.
Another interesting note is that as of now, the term “LGBT rights” is most often googled in states where homosexual marriage is legal, which may imply that the people are interested primarily in marital status. The correlation isn’t very strong in terms of other rights, such as transgender rights or workplace discrimination.
One interesting thing about LGBT+ politics is that there’s no real uniformed movement for them. There are rifts in our movement from radical anti-genderists to a couple of gay men who just want to get married. A more unified movement focusing on the rights of all of us is bound to be more successful than the splintered movement we see today.