Love is About Hearts, Not Parts.

Same-sex equality and marriage is always a buzzing topic all around the country and world. Last year I took a post to to look at the different stances of the matter and where the process of full same-sex marriage legalization was all around America. For the piece I’d like to examine where we are this year with rights and marriage and talk about my feelings on the issue.

I believe that every person no matter their sexual orientation, race, income status or whatever other differing characteristic deserves to be given all basic rights that we have here in America. Discriminating others based off of something that they legitimately have zero control over is prejudiced and wrong. It is an inspiring time to live in with the support nationwide towards closing the gaps in the lack of these rights becoming more prominent in our society each year. One of the most inspiring moments for me over the last couple years was the statement that Starbucks released after publically supporting same-sex rights and equality.
Here is their statement:

“Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. We are deeply dedicated to embracing diversity and treating one another with respect and dignity, and remain committed to providing an inclusive, supportive and safe work environment for all of our partners.
In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.
Not every decision is an economic decision. Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38% shareholder return over the last year. I don’t know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38% over the last 12 months. Having said that, it is not an economic decision to me. The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity — of all kinds. If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Although I tend to think that businesses should avoid political issues, their statement proves that to reach full equality it is going to take standing your ground firmly. These basic human rights that are being denied to so many people is not about business, its about treating people with respect and dignity. Businesses have increasingly been showing their support over the last few years – showcased by the ever-increasing amount of advertisements that include same-sex couples. Here is an article that shows the most prominent same-sex couple advertisements ranging from Tiffany & Co. to General Mills to Toyota.

Here is an infographic detailing how views on same-sex rights have changed over the years in the U.S.

Legalization in the News

One of the most prevalent recent moves towards equality was when Ireland became the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Before the historic vote on May 23, 2015, the support towards the bill was demonstrated all over the city from professionally done posters to handmade items. The final vote after the incredibly high turn out (more than 60 percent of eligible voters) was 62 percent in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and 38 percent opposed. At a news conference the Prime Minister Enda Kenny stated, “Today Ireland made history, in the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement.

Greenland followed Ireland’s suit with having their parliament vote unanimously to adopt Danish laws legalizing gay marriage and gay adoption on May 26th, 2015. The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, in Australia proposed a bill to legalize saying that their parliamentarians need to embrace a new definition of marriage that respects, values and includes all Australians. In the speech he gave introducing the bill, Shorten stated, “When someone has found not just another person they can live with, but a person they can’t live without, then they should have the same right to the true qualities of a bond that runs deeper than any law.” The Prime Minister of Luxembourg became the first gay EU leader to enter into a same-sex marriage on May 15, 2015. Finally, New South Wales passed the Relationships Register Amendment (recognition of Same-sex and Gender-Diverse Relationships) Bill in 2014. This bill will ensure that same sex couples who are married over seas will be able to reflect their marital status on relevant forms and no longer will have to declare that they are not married.

Here are some infographics detailing the progress of same-sex marriage and acceptance around the world.

Moves Towards Legalization in the United States 

Supreme Courts around the US have been very busy hearing cases pertaining to same-sex marriage over the last few years. In October, the court decided that it will leave the laws that prohibit (or legalize) same-sex marriage in the hands of the lower state and federal court judges. They stated that they would not hear appeals from five states whose same-sex marriage bans have been invalidated by lower federal courts. This decision will likely make same-sex marriage legal in 11 more states, but will also uphold anti-gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. In South Carolina, the Supreme Court decided not to hear the appeal of their decision to uphold the decision to allow same-sex marriage. The Hawaii Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge to their Marriage Equality Act that Governor Neil Abercrombie stated was part of their “legacy of aloha”. Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a known supporter of same-sex marriage, stated “All of the incentives, all of the benefits that marriage affords would still be available. So you’re not taking away anything from heterosexual couples. They would have the very same incentive to marry, all the benefits that come with marriage that they do now.” The Supreme Court will also rule in June on Obergefell v. Hodges which is a case that pertains to what the United States constitution says about same-sex marriage. The case will examine if the fourteenth amendment requires states to give same sex couples marriage licenses and if it requires states to recognize marriages that were lawfully preformed somewhere else.

There have also been a few moves in the opposite direction. Kansas recently passed HB 2453 which made it legal to fire an employee based off of their sexual orientation. Governor Sam Brownback stated that “This Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did. Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.”  This report detailing the immense amount of hate crimes and violence against LGBT shows support that they are a class who needs protection.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 which would have effectively given stores the ability to deny service to people due to their sexual orientation based off of religious grounds. Prominent members of the Republican party, including Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, also sided with the bill’s opponents, who argued that the measure would have allowed people to use religion as a fig leaf for prejudice.
In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory vetoed Senate Bill 2 that would have allowed magistrates and some other court officials to opt out of performing all marriage ceremonies. He stated “I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself, opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, we are a nation and a state of laws.” Oklahoma and Texas did not share McCrory’s views. Oklahoma passed HB 1007 which states that “no regularly licensed, ordained, or authorized official of any religious organization shall be required to solemnize or recognize any marriage that violates the official’s conscience or religious beliefs.” Texas’ “Pastor Protection Act”, or SB 2065, is similar and currently being considered by the house.
Finally, the most disappointing for me, is Sally Kern from Oklahoma. She recently filed three bills against same-sex rights. First, HB 1599 is being called the “Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act.” This bill states that taxpayer dollars or governmental salaries cannot be used for “the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.”This means that under this bill no local or state employee would be allowed to “officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pension or other employee benefit.” The second, HB 1598 being named the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act” says parents would be allowed to seek counseling and therapy to help change a child’s sexual orientation, without interference from the state. Unfortunately “conversion therapy” is a discredited and dangerous process that claims to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity that puts the person in a great deal of danger and is not successful. These are not aspects of a person that can be chosen. And finally is House Bill 1597 would allow any business in Oklahoma to refuse service to any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person or group.
Although I am happy with how year by year people are becoming more and more supportive of closing the gap of these basic human rights for all of the discriminated against classes, there is still so much more room to grow. Something that has truly resonated with me is when the governor of North Carolina stated that people can have their beliefs about the subject, but North Carolina (and America) is a place of laws. Religious belief is a right to every person in America, but it is a right, not a governing force. It is time to take the final steps forward towards equal rights for all LGBT.

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Photography enthusiast, creative ambitions, always smile.

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