gay rights

Recent posts

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 4

For the final post in this series (here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) we’ll examine the final 3 characteristics of minority groups based on a sociological list of 5 traits that minority groups tend to share. And we’ll discuss some implications for considering LGBT folks a minority group when it comes to the question of “rights.” 3) A shared sense of collective identity and common burdens: The LGBT community has bonded in order to provide community support to one another, both in cases of discrimination and intolerance described above, and to do what all social groups do for one another (celebrate life, mourn death, share their daily existence, tell stories, make art, help one another, work, gossip, raise children, and so on). 4) Socially shared rules about who belongs and who does not determine minority status: This group might be more porous than other minority groups, since many GLBT groups accept straight allies, asexual allies, and so on within their ranks. But there are still norms for membership, inclusion, and so on. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 3

In this post series, I’m defending the idea of giving GLBT people minority status. My first post gives some background on the issue, while my second post documents the oppression they face, thus fulfilling the first of 5 sociological categories that grant minority status to a group. Now we’ll get into the 2nd of these 5 categories:

2) Physical and/or cultural traits that set them apart, and which are disapproved by the dominant group: as far as I can tell, the scientific community is still researching the nature vs. nurture explanations for same-sex desire (take, for instance, this Slate article explaining some of the recent theories for the biological basis of homosexuality). My educated guess is that there are both biological and environmental factors going into sexual identity, and we’re still figuring out which conditions cause certain factors to come to the forefront. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 2

In the first post in this series, I listed 5 sociological characteristics of minority groups, intending to build an argument that LGBT people are, in fact, deserving of minority status. Here’s where I’ll get into the first – and perhaps most important – of those characteristics. Please note that for the purposes of this discussion, I will be focusing on gays and lesbians; this is not to erase the unique challenges faced by bisexual people, trans*people, queer folks, asexual people, and others, but simply because I’m not trying to conflate all these groups under one umbrella heading, though in some cases it does make sense to consider them grouped together, and I’d argue that they all do deserve minority status based on their uniqueness and their experiences of oppression. 1) Suffering discrimination and subordination: here is a list of atrocities committed against gays and lesbians specifically because they are gays and lesbians:

Numerous hate crimes against gays and lesbians, such as the murders of Matthew Shepard, Steven Simpson, Sakia Gunn, and many, many more, as listed on Wikipedia’s page, History of violence against LGBT people in the U.S. (seriously, click on that last link if you don’t believe that hate crimes against LGBT people are a thing)
Put another way, according to The Leadership Conference, “Of all hate crimes reported in 2007, the proportion committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals rose to 16.6 percent, also the highest level in five years.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the population of gays and lesbians probably remained fairly constant, so the fact that the proportion of hate crimes against them went up means that they are being targeted specifically for who they are. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 1

Since I started following the news about HJR-3, the proposed Indiana amendment that would ban same-sex marriage (which will not appear on the 2014 ballot after all), I have gotten more and more involved in debates on why gay marriage should be legal, what gay rights are, and whether the phrase “gay rights” should even exist. One Indiana blogger, Sam Kean, wrote in a blog post titled Sexual Identity & Equality that “The LGBT culture attempts to claim rights as a minority against which discrimination is happening. That claim for equal rights as a minority is based on sexual identity, as if sexual identity must be equated with other essential (permanent) descriptors of human identity–race/ethnicity, gender, nationality (origin), age.” Kean discusses other aspects of sexuality in his blog post, which I won’t get into here, as my main goal is to demonstrate that gays and lesbians do, indeed, deserve minority status. Here’s why. Continue Reading →

The Question Of Gay Marriage In Different Religions

In following recent gay marriage debates in the U.S., I’ve noticed that a lot of the arguments against legalizing gay marriage are religious. They may or may not be explicitly framed that way – some people quote the Bible in their arguments, while others refer to “traditional marriage,” an implicitly Christian construct – but the religious content remains. My issue with taking a religious stand against gay marriage here in the U.S. is that our government is explicitly founded upon the separation of church and state. In my understanding, the application of this delineation is largely carried out through civil rights. So while one religion may discourage its members from same-sex marriage, that shouldn’t affect believers of another religion (or none at all) from being able to pursue same-sex marriage. Continue Reading →

Morality Clauses And Homophobia

The ability of judges to write “morality clauses” into divorce papers can lead to enforcing homophobia, as in this Texas case wherein a judge is ordering a lesbian couple to not live together in order to “protect” the children involved. Because the couple cannot marry in Texas, and the judge is ordering that no adult not related by blood or marriage be in the house after 9pm, the family is caught in a bind. I wonder, too, whether there is a class issue involved here; some adults cannot afford their rent without housemates, so this kind of situation could be devastating for lower-income households. Either way, mandating that heterosexual marriage is the only acceptable situation for children to grow up in is both unrealistic and prejudiced. Continue Reading →

2012 Election Results: Gay and Lesbian Issues

In terms of gay rights, the 2012 election showed significant progress. In three states – Maryland, Maine, and Washington – citizens voted to allow gay marriage. Minnesota lagged a little behind, voting against a ban on gay marriage (which is not quite the same thing as legalizing it), but hey, progress is progress. Additionally, Tammy Baldwin is the first openly lesbian senator to serve in U.S. history, and Kyrsten Sinema is the first openly bi member of Congress. Hopefully more will follow in their footsteps. Continue Reading →

Reflections On Coming Out

October 11th was National Coming Out Day, which was established after the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This celebration of identity is intended to promote equality, safety, and tolerance for all, regardless of sexual identity. People’s willingness to share their coming-out stories is a significant part of this movement. As someone who studies storytelling, I can tell you that stories are a powerful expression of the cultural and individual aspects of our identities. It makes sense that collecting coming-out stories would yield a great many insights about the commonalities of both oppression and acceptance. Continue Reading →

LGBT Rights In Russia

I haven’t seen a lot in the US news about this, but since I’m currently living in Estonia–which used to be occupied by the Soviet Union–I guess I’m in a better position to hear about Russian news. Basically, in November voters were supposed to weigh in on a new law that would criminalize free speech for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people. As Amnesty International reports, the law would allow authorities to fine “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.” The ambiguous phrasing makes it unclear just what a “public action” is, leading the activists at All Out to ask for signatures to show support for freedom of speech for gays, lesbians, and other queer folks in Russia. The problems of not being allowed to freely speak about one’s sexual identity are myriad. Continue Reading →