Marriage equality the smallest barrier for LGBT community
Last week, the Supreme Court refused to issue a stay of a federal ruling on Alabama's definition of a marriage, making Alabama the 37th state to legalize gay marriage. While this legalization should represent a huge victory, the backlash in Alabama has quickly become representative of the problems facing the LGBT community.
The state is due to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as Feb. 19, but they'll still have difficulties in obtaining licenses. Just days after the Supreme Court's ruling, Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore issued a statement claiming that Alabama did not have to follow the ruling.
In the letter sent to Alabama probate judges, Moore stated that no judge should issue marriage licenses inconsistent with the Alabama constitution. Following Moore's strong anti-gay marriage letter, 52 of Alabama's 67 counties refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. With so few districts willing to marry gay couples, the ruling barely registers as a step toward equal rights.
Alabama is not the only state to recently deal blows to the gay rights movement. While there are four states currently awaiting a Supreme Court ruling regarding gay marriage, there are six states which are currently attempting to appeal lower court decisions legalizing gay marriage.
Beyond just marriage, two states have passed bills which bar anti-discrimination expansion. As of Feb. 19, both Tennessee and Arkansas have passed such a bill, under which cities and counties would be "unable to prevent the firing or eviction of people based on their sexual orientation." These two bills set an unbelievable precedent by legalizing the discrimination of people based solely on sexual orientation. This trend does not stop with just these two states. Texas is considering several propositions similar to those in Tennessee and Arkansas.
The LGBT community not only faces legal backlash, but also still faces opposition from the religious. Stories about anti-gay pastors and preachers still continue to pop up at an alarming rate. This problem has even recently touched Arizona. Last December, a pastor at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe called for the killing of all gays to stop the spread of AIDs.
Beyond just small fanatics, there is still a strong anti-gay sentiment in the Catholic church. While Pope Francis has previously stated that he loves all people who reach out to God regardless of sexual orientation, he has recently backed an anti-gay marriage referendum in Slovakia. As the approval of gay marriage continues to grow, these religious stances continue to be one of the biggest roadblocks to widespread acceptance.
While gay rights continue to win important legal decisions, the LGBT community still faces serious problems. Passing bills and legalizing gay marriage is not enough when it comes to progress. As a society we must actively work towards acceptance of all people. Even though the opinions on gay marriage and gay rights among the general public are shifting, there is still a risk that this country could digress back to former ways.
Reach the columnist at Alec.Grafil@asu.edu or follow @AlecGrafil on Twitter.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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