The status of women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender citizens in the United States has improved over the years. Today, there are women and LGBT individuals in leadership roles, political office, media and serving in the military this was not always the case, “moving into the early twentieth century, women were still without a vote, and thus a voice. During this time, gays were the target of police raids, and,  laws were on the books barring them from activities as simple as public assembly, they, too, were unable to speak for themselves in any meaningful way.” (Schake, 2010).The plight of women and LGBT citizens in the United States has been parallel “as Gloria Steinem once said not too long ago, LGBT rights and women’s rights “are completely the same thing.” The wars on each of these groups that we keep hearing about are in fact the same war, and really just an irritated symptom of a neglected illness—heterosexual men’s unwillingness to share power. (O’Connell, 2012) Women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender citizens still face discrimination, political and social injustices in employment, marriage and reproductive rights in the United States.

 

Both women and LGBT citizens face employment discrimination and harassment at an alarming rate. Women and LGBT folks are likely to be paid and promoted less in some organizations than their male heterosexual counterpart. Women and LGBT citizens are more likely to face some form of harassment in the workplace at some point during their career. There was a study released in April by the American Association of University Women that found that the gender wage gap has begin to plateau again. Since 1970, the gender wage gap was narrowing some.

The report found that “In the U.S., women are paid 23 percent less than men on average.” Other research, available shows that “LGBT people and their heterosexual coworkers consistently report having experienced or witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace 37 percent of LG people have experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12 percent had lost a job because of their sexual orientation, according to the 2008 General Social Survey. As recently as 2011, 90 percent of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, or had taken actions to avoid it, and 47 percent reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity.”

 

Socially and politically, women and LGBT folks struggle for an equal opportunity at the ‘table’ of American society. An important facet of American society is marriage and raising a family. Politically and socially the issue of same-sex marriage has fueled much debate and discrimination. In the United States, there is only a handful of states (18 plus D.C.) that allow same-sex marriage. Make that 19 states. On last Tuesday, in my home state of Pennsylvania, a federal judge struck down the ban on same-sex marriage.  A  small victory for the LGBT community in PA,  in a bigger war for equality.

 

 

While the remaining states still have laws on the books banning same-sex marriage. A blatant form of social injustice and inequality against LGBT individuals. The other end of a similar spectrum is a woman’s right to family planning and her decision to have children (if she chooses). The abortion ‘issue’ was made legal (Roe v. Wade, 1973) and the birth control ‘issue’ are still ‘hot topics’ up for debate (but why?). Women continue to face the ‘policing’ of our health and reproductive rights. An issue that should neither be up for debate or governing.“Women are sick and tired of these constant attacks on our constitutionally-protected right to choose while priorities like equal pay, fair wages, and paid family leave go unaddressed.”, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

 

 

Today, women and LGBT citizens fair better than they did fifty years ago, but “social and political power still overwhelmingly belong to heterosexual men” (O’Connell, 2012). There still is more work that needs to happen. Many states still have laws that infringe on the civil rights and liberties of women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. It’s important that the laws that govern this great nation continue to evolve to give equal rights to all of it citizens.  Women and LGBT citizens deserve an equal seat at the table…

What are your thoughts? Is the plight of women and LGBT folks parallel?

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*Update: The Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015, that same-sex marriage is the law of the land.