Ever since the Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage across the nation, many right-wing politicians, religious institutions, and businesses have done everything in their power to maintain discriminatory actions and policies against LGBTQ+ individuals. The trans community has been under attack in the form of legislative efforts involving access to bathrooms and executive actions involving military service. At the local level in Clark County, there is vocal opposition to the implementation of guidelines which would protect the rights of gender diverse students in our public schools.
Nationally, there have also been cases of businesses refusing to serve LGBTQ+ customers by using religion as an excuse for their discriminatory policies. These hateful policies and actions against LGBTQ+ individuals have had profoundly negative consequences including problems obtaining employment and housing, as well as victimization via acts of violence. Institutionalized hatred has been a strong contributing factor to the high suicide rate among LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly those in the trans community. Recently the Trump Administration has permitted healthcare providers to deny services to LGBTQ+ individuals based on “religious liberty.”
As was demonstrated during Civil Rights era of 1960s, legal protections are required in order to guarantee basic human rights to marginalized groups. While we cannot legislate morality, we can implement laws to guarantee that all individuals are guaranteed the same rights regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As such, I support expanding the Civil Rights Act to include specific protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. Absolutely no individual should be denied the right to education, housing, employment, or healthcare. I also support the implementation of gender-diverse guidelines and policies to protect trans students in K-12 schools and colleges. Everyone deserves the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
The notion that religious freedom can be used as grounds for discrimination is not only inhumane, it is not supported by the First Amendment. The religious beliefs of one individual does not give that person the right to discriminate against another.
Finally, anyone that is willing and able to put their life on the line to serve this country, should be allowed to do. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not valid reasons for disqualification.