When has it ever been morally just to deny people the basic human rights we ALL deserve?
It is honestly mind-boggling that members of the LGBTQ+ community are in a constant grueling battle to gain freedoms they should already have as U.S citizens. What is even more bizarre is the need to pass anti-discrimination laws, which in truth have been up for debate for way too long.
There are still more than twenty states in the nation that do not have state-specific anti-discrimination laws to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, it was not until just last year that the Supreme Court ruled to make employment discrimination illegal in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County. But still, things like housing, credit, healthcare, and other vital aspects of daily life can be denied to members of the LGBTQ+ community, with little legal support to prevent it or seek justice. Due to such poor treatment, LGBTQ+ individuals suffer disproportionate rates of homelessness, mental health problems, and are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime. These are not the values that the United States legal system was founded on.
The concept of separation of church and state is hundreds of years old, yet still extremely relevant when discussing modern-day humanitarian issues like LGBTQ+ protection. There are no legal grounds for preventing anti-discrimination laws, as they should exist for any U.S citizen. Most of the push-back comes from conservative-leaning politicians who adopt traditional, religious ideals about the “immorality” of homosexuality. However, as the founding fathers declared, separation of church and state is essential for creating a free nation. The construction of new legislation is only compared to our Constitution – not any religious text.
Improving the lives of those who identify as LGBTQ+ is for the good of the entire community, and the nation at large. Allowing them to buy homes, access quality medical care and open businesses are all important components of a healthy economy. Businesses, from small coffee shops to large churches, who outwardly express their support of LGBTQ+ are directly improving their communities by creating safe spaces for people. This means more foot traffic, tourism, investments, employment opportunities, and overall adding a special quality to neighborhoods across the nation.
Despite these possibilities, LGBTQ+ individuals still deserve the right to be legally represented and protected, on both the state and federal levels. Unfortunately, even in very LGBTQ+ friendly communities, incidents of injustice still occur. This is why it is part of our civic responsibility as citizens, to put pressure on politicians to pass laws that make it possible for LGBTQ+ members to take their cases to court.
I’m calling on Senator Pat Toomey to help move things in the right direction by voting in favor of the Equality Act; legislation that would protect people on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This community has suffered far too much and it is obvious that basic protections are not sufficient enough.
As Muhlenberg students who come from such a diverse and inclusive academic environment, this is our chance to step up and use our voices to fight for what we know to be right. We need to exercise our ability to engage in these types of conversations and bring forth changes. We are the generation who will foster a righteous future where all people can live free of maltreatment and this community needs us now more than ever.
We, as citizens and as human beings, have an unpaid debt to the LGBTQ+ community. It is up to us to cherish them in our spaces and fight for their equality in all regards.