LGBT community looks ahead

BY YUN LIN | JULY 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Supreme Court on June 26 ruled that same-sex couples could get married nationwide, but the historic victory does not mean that the fight for LGBT civil rights is over.

“It is really important to celebrate this achievement,” said Bria Marcelo, a diversity resources coordinator at the University of Iowa. “But there are still a lot of components of civil rights that need to be looked at.”

There are still a lot of issues facing members of the LGBT community, such as employment discrimination, health-care disparity, and housing issues, said Rachel Williams, a UI associate professor of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies.

“Some of these aren’t necessarily legal issues but are about human rights,” she said.

One of the next main areas of focus is going to be expanding employment protections for LGBT people, said Zach Wahls, an LGBT-rights activist who previously lived in Iowa City.

“Today, LGBT workers can be fired because of their sexual orientation in 29 states, and transgender workers can be fired because of their gender identity in 32 states, so there is still a lot of work to do,” he said.

Besides employment discrimination, LGBT health care is another big problem, Williams said.
Williams said she thinks the UI Hospital and Clinics has fantastic LGBT health care available.

“That is pretty unusual and special in this country,” she said.

The UI’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Clinic is located at Iowa River Landing, 105 E. Ninth St., Coralville.

“There, people who identify as LGBTQ are screened appropriately for their sexual health,” Williams said. “Every staff there will ensure an environment that is welcoming for all patients.”

Wahls said he hopes politicians will protect LGBT rights in the future.

“We’re absolutely going to see renewed focus on electing a Democratic president to make sure that we protect that Supreme Court ruling, which had such a narrow margin,” he said.

“We’re looking at two to four Supreme Court openings over the next four to eight years,” he said. “Most of the Republican field has already made clear that they oppose the ruling and many support a constitutional amendment reversing the decision.”

Even though the court ruling makes marriage a right for same-sex couples, there is still a struggle for civil rights, Wahls said.

“Marriage equality is a monumental step forward that affirms the worth and dignity of people in same-sex relationships,” he said. “But it’s clear that there are going to be a lot of people who fight the decision, so actual implementation is still important.”

The Texas attorney general has said legal officers in his state do not have to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling, Wahls said.

“I think in the process of every sort of movement there is always backlash,” Marcelo said. “That is true of every movement that happened in U.S. history, and I am hopeful that we can overcome and figure out a way to move forward.”

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