5 Things America Needs to Do in 2013 to Advance Gay Rights
1) Pass ENDA – The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), a piece of legislation that would make it illegal to fire someone solely because they are LGBT, should not be controversial. Such protections already exist for ethnic and racial minorities and people of faith. Yet the legislation has languished in Congress for years. The legislation, which when introduced must be trans inclusive with no compromise on basic access to public accommodations, should as a matter of civil rights be a priority for legislators in 2013 who for too long have allowed this basic inequality in the law to persist.
2) Repeal DOMA — The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional by a number of federal courts and looks set to be examined by the US Supreme Court next year. However, the repeal bill the Respect for Marriage Act sits in Congress and, with President Obama’s support for marriage equality, a legislative remedy to the DOMA problem should be advanced. Indeed, this would save the taxpayer a great deal of money as House Republicans have just increased the DOMA defense spending limit to $2 million.
3) Repeal the Ban on Transgender Servicemembers — The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell rule was repealed in 2011 but a ban on transgender servicemembers remains in force. This means that any trans servicemember seeking transgender related health care can as such be separated from the military for no other reason than their identity. This puts trans people in the military at severe risk of depression and largely allows anti-trans discrimination to go unchallenged in the military. This ban should be repealed and appropriate measures to recognize and help trans servicemembers put in place.
4) Stop Putting LGBT Rights to a Public Vote and Just Do the Right Thing — While 2012 may have shown that a majority of Americans in some states are prepared to vote in favor of marriage equality, the point still stands that basic civil rights should not be put to a public vote. Instead, state lawmakers should move as a matter of urgency to remedy anti-LGBT provisions in state law and federal law, something that should be a point to drive home in 2013.
5) Recognize Gender Realignment Treatment as a Medical Necessity — Gender realignment treatment is a medical necessity and as such there should not even be a debate about allowing gender realignment treatment to members of the public and, also, prisoners, something that several courts have affirmed and something with which lawmakers should not be playing politics.
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