Column: Human Rights Campaign's 43-Year Failure

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Sometimes there seems to be a language problem in understanding, to quote a current president, “what the hell is really happening here.” Here’s an example.

Most Republicans, after the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, are stating that “marriage equality is now the law of the land.” But don’t take that as the issue is settled and we’ve won them over. If you listen closely enough, they’ll continue and add, “We now have to fight for religious freedoms.”

That line simply means denying your right not only as a married couple but as an LGBT to get services by any company or business that, for “religious reasons,” states it can’t serve you because of your orientation. And there’s only one real fix for that and we need Republicans to solve this — so when they say marriage is the law of the land, they’re not speaking out of the other side of their mouths.

The reason they can discriminate is quite simple: We as a group are not a protected class, as is race, religion, sex, national origin and age. Other areas have been added by various departments but they can be stripped by new directors or the president. So the answer is the ENDA, or the Equality Act which has labored in Congress since Congresswoman Bella Abzug first introduced it in 1974.

What has stopped us from getting that through — and at one point we came very close — and why didn’t we pass it while Democrats had control? The answer is very simple. We seem to be a civil-rights movement whose issues detour. We successfully got gays in the military and marriage equality — not ENDA, but both successful and important campaigns.

As they remind us at every possible opportunity, HRC is the largest LGBT lobby organization. Isn’t a lobby supposed to work with both Democrats and Republicans? So let’s ask them: About the one piece of legislation that would protect millions of LGBT Americans, why have you had nothing but failure for almost 43 years?

 

Mark Segal is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, "And Then I Danced," was recently named Book of the Year by NLGJA.


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