Gay marriage is great, but gay people are going to need jobs to pay for those wedding parties.
The U.S. Supreme Court made history today when it ruled same sex couples across the U.S. have a Constitutional right to marry. But it’s still perfectly legal in 29 states to fire or deny gay people promotions just because of their sexuality.
Take a look at other political fights that could one day reach the Supreme Court and determine whether LGBT people in the U.S. have access to equal rights.
Worker discrimination laws for LGBT workers
There is currently no federal law that protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination. In more than half the country – 29 states – gay and lesbian employees are not protected against discrimination based on their sexual orientation. It's even worse when it comes to transgender workers, 32 states don’t have any protections against discrimination at the workplace based on gender identity.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination has been proposed in Congress for over 20 years, but it’s gone nowhere. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the bill “unnecessary” and said it “would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits.”
Housing discrimination laws
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
That means that landlords in the remaining 33 states can deny housing or evict renters from their home just because they’re LGBT.
Adoption refusal laws
Same sex couples in Louisiana, Mississippi and Michigan face legal barriers to joint adoptions.
“[Gay marriage] provides innumerable protections, rights and responsibilities to married couples and parents raising children in a marriage. But it doesn’t come close to solving all of the legal and recognition issues that same-sex couples and their children face,” Emily Hecht-McGowan, director of public policy at the Family Equality Council told the New York Times.
A number of states have also authorized state-paid child placement agencies to turn away qualified prospective foster or adoptive parents based solely on the religious beliefs of the agencies, regardless of their ability to care for a child, according to an ACLU analysis.
Earlier this month Michigan passed a law that allows state-funded child welfare agencies to deny services to same-sex couples who want to provide foster care or adopt. Virginia and North Dakota already have similar religious exemption laws, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
Gay conversion therapy
A day before the historic Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage a New Jersey jury unanimously decided offering gay conversion therapy is an act of consumer fraud.
All of the nation’s major mental health professional groups have questioned the ethics, efficacy and benefits of the so-called conversion therapy but still only three states have laws that prohibit the practice.
Even the White House has spoken out against the practice that is based on a view of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions.
“Often, this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions. We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth,” wrote Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, in a response to a White House petition.
"Show Your Papers to Pee" bills
Laws that criminalize trans people for entering restrooms that correspond to their gender identity may turn into the nation’s next big LGBT legal fight.
Earlier this year in February Texas state Rep. Debbie Riddle filed legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for a trans person to use a restroom that doesn’t correspond to the sex “established at the individual’s birth.”
Keeping bias out of public schools
Nevada, Florida, and Texas have also proposed bills that would bar trans kids from using certain school bathrooms and locker rooms.
Rights for incarcerated LGBT people
Recently the Justice Department backed a lawsuit filed by a trans prisoner who claims Georgia prison officials terminated her female hormone therapy when she entered prison. In a “statement of interest” filed in Ashley Diamond’s case, the Justice Department noted denying “appropriate medical care” for inmates with gender dysphoria violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.”
In April, a federal judge in California ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide gender-affirming surgery to a transgender woman being held in a men’s prison.
“From police profiling of trans women of color as sex workers to the violence LGBT people face in custody, criminal justice reform is critically important for the LGBT movement,” says the American Civil Liberties Union.
Laws that criminalize HIV
There are 13 states where people living with HIV can be charged with a felony for biting or spitting at someone, even though it has been years since the Center for Disease Control declared it’s not possible to transmit HIV via saliva.
The majority of these laws that criminalize HIV were passed decades ago before studies showed that antiretroviral therapy reduces HIV transmission risk and most do not account for HIV prevention measures that reduce transmission risk, such as condom use or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the daily pill which can lower the risk of HIV infection by 92 percent.
In June 2014 the Iowa Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a man living with HIV who had been sentenced to twenty-five years for allegedly exposing his sexual partner to HIV, even though he used a condom and did not transmit the disease.
Incarcerating LGBT immigrants
Jennicet Gutiérrez made national news this week when she interrupted President Obama's speech to demand he release all LGBTQ immigrants from immigration detention centers.
U.S. officials currently detain transgender immigrant women in men's detention centers where the conditions are often humiliating, dangerous, and even deadly.
A 2014 Fusion investigation found U.S. immigration officials detain an average of 75 transgender detainees each night.
But even though Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE) holds 34,000 immigrants each night, transgender detainees account for one out of five confirmed sexual abuse cases in detention, Fusion’s investigation found.
"Religious freedom" laws
Annnnd we’re back at where we started. There will undoubtedly be government employees who refuse to perform same-sex marriages because of claims that it would violate their religious beliefs.
States like North Carolina have passed laws that allow civil magistrates to refuse to marry any couple it conflicts with their “sincerely held religious” beliefs.