On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that people in same-sex relationships have the fundamental right to marry their loved ones. This ruling requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
Reaction to this historic ruling has been swift. Many conservative groups have criticized the ruling and called for a new constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, progressive and liberal groups praised the ruling and President Obama likened it to “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”
There is no doubt that this is a monumental victory for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. A lot of people and advocacy organizations have spent a lot of time and money fighting for this victory. However, the battle is not over since members of the LGBT community still face discrimination in other areas.
Did you know that twenty eight states do not offer employment discrimination protection for LGBT employees? Many LGBT employees are subjected to discrimination and harassment at their job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to a 2013 study by the Center for American Progress, 58% of LGBT employees have been subjected to derogatory comments at work. Furthermore, according to a 2013 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 90% of transgender employees have reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination on the job.
Sadly, many LGBT youth have also reported experiencing bullying and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to a 2011 survey conducted by Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 80% of LGBT youths have been bullied at school and 32% have missed school because they were worried about their safety. Other reports note that bullying, harassment and discrimination can come from school officials and teachers as well as from classmates.
The good news is that Colorado is doing pretty well when it comes to equal protection for LGBT community: Colorado has laws that expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the areas of housing, healthcare, public accommodations, and adoption. Colorado also has laws that address bullying and harassment of LGBT students, hate and bias crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and has some laws and policies in place to assist transgender individuals to identify as their chosen gender. A 2014 study conducted by the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Federation ranked Colorado in the highest category of LGBT rights and protections.
If you would like to learn more about the LGBT community in Colorado, please contact The Center, a Colorado-specific LGBT rights organization, by going to their website at www.GLBTcolorado.org
Harry received his law degree from the University of Colorado Law School. As the Health Equity Advocate
at the Asian Pacific Development Center, Harry works with government officials and community
organizations to address health disparities in the refugee and immigrant communities. You can contact
him at [email protected]
Harry would like to thank The Center: Advancing LGBT Colorado, for their help in writing this column.