Tagged: act now

Pride 2015: Steps Forward, Miles to Go

Over the past several years, states opposing same-sex marriage have fallen like dominoes. One by one, states across the country erupted in celebration as state courts struck down the bans. However, there have been some hold-outs (Here’s looking at you, Ohio). On Friday morning, the United States Supreme court ruled that same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states.

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Image courtesy of ABC Australia

Other countries recently celebrated victories for the LGBTQ community. Last month, Ireland held a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage; citizens turned out in droves to cast their votes. In Mozambique, the government struck down laws that criminalized homosexuality. While the country’s sole gay rights group, Lambda, views the ruling as a victory, there is little faith that it will make a tangible impact on daily life for LGBTQ people.

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Image courtesy of International Business Times

But for every celebratory parade, reminders of the work that remains reared their heads. In Istanbul, Turkey, riot police broke up pride parades with tear gas and rubber bullets. The government declared that the LGBTQ community did not have permission to hold the parade, an event that has occurred on the same weekend in June for the past 13 years, because it coincides with the holy month of Ramadan.

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Image courtesy of Mashable

While people across the United States used Facebook’s rainbow profile picture feature, many in Russia and countries across the Middle East were not amused. Russia recently passed staunch anti-gay laws, forcing people with the means to do so to seek asylum. According to a recent poll, 80% of Russians oppose gay marriage; in response to the Facebook rainbow, some Russians overlaid national flags on their pictures and tagged them with the hashtag #ProudToBeRussian.

Although same sex-marriage is now legal in the United States, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender remains poorly defined and policed. Same-sex couples can be denied housing and jobs based on a landlord’s or hiring manager’s own preference. In 2014, California banned the “gay panic defense,” but other states consider it an acceptable excuse for unwarranted violence against LGBTQ people. The very fact that these defenses gain traction illustrates how, in parts of the country, members of the LGBTQ community must still fight for their right to live. So while this landmark victory deserves celebration, let’s not forget that there’s still much work to do.

Get The Vote Out

To all our readers outside the United States, I apologize: today is a very U.S.-centric post. Today is Election Day, so if you’re registered to do so, flex that voting muscle!

Worried that you don’t know enough about “the issues” to make a good choice? The fact that you feel you should make an informed decision is exactly why you SHOULD be voting. Go to your state’s board of elections site and download the contest list (or just check out this handy site; thanks, Analise!), read up on the candidates and proposals, and see where your sentiments fall. Think it’s “just” a midterm election? Key races across the country center around women’s access to health care and contraception, fair wages, and violence against women, not to mention other immigration, environmental, and economic issues. If you think these are just buzzwords that don’t affect you, you’re playing yourself.

Some facts about voting:

  • The first generation of suffragists in the United States fought for 70 years before winning the right to vote.
  • Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.
  • But let’s not pretend that the 19th Amendment covered all women at this time. Here’s a clip of Kerry Washington reenacting Sojourner Truth’s critical speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” in response to black women being denied the right to vote.

  • In the 2012 United States elections, 60.1% of young Black women voted, compared to 48.7% of young White women, 40% of Asian American women and 39.9% of Latinas.
  • Wyoming, the first state to grant voting rights to women, was also the first state to elect a female governor, Ms. Nellie Tayloe Ross.
  • It took over 60 years for the remaining 12 states to ratify the 19th Amendment. Mississippi was the last to do so, on March 22, 1984. (This one made my brain explode.)

Women had to wait a long time to vote, so stop making excuses and get to the polls.