Beyond marriage, other gay-rights challenges remain
- New York 10/11/2014 (AP)
Brad Newton and Frank Brooks show off their wedding rings after being the first to wed at the Guilford County Register of Deeds office after gay marriages became legal on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/News & Record, Lynn Hey)
Even as they celebrate epic victories in the push for marriage equality, gay-rights activists acknowledge that other difficult issues remain on their agenda. There's the persistent high rate of HIV infections, the struggles to expand transgender rights, and the striking fact that even in some states allowing same-sex marriage, people can lose their job for being gay.
For many activists, the top priority after marriage is federal legislation that would outlaw a broad range of discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. There's no such federal law now, and more than half the states do not ban discrimination by employers or public accommodations based on sexual orientation.
"There's absolutely no good reason — if you can get married — why you should be denied a hotel room or a job," said Fred Sainz, a vice president of the Human Rights Campaign. "There will be a fair number of states where you can get married and be fired the same day for having gotten married."
Anti-LGBT discrimination is among several issues likely to gain more attention following the Supreme Court's Oct. 6 decision to turn away appeals by five states seeking to preserve their bans on same-sex marriage. The number of gay-marriage states — previously 19 — is expected to nearly double soon, and continue growing toward what many Americans now assume is inevitable expansion to all 50 states. As a whole, the LGBT population is elated by the expansion of gay marriage. Yet according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, about 40 percent of LGBT adults aren't interested in getting married, compared to 24 percent of the general public. And nearly 40 percent of the LGBT respondents said the marriage issue had drawn too much attention away from other concerns.