Five Facts Why Marriage Matters

#5. Marriage is relatable.

Perhaps a more pressing concern than marriage for college-age LGBT individuals is workplace protection. Indeed, many LGBT individuals (especially those who are transgender) face increased job discrimination and bullying in the workplace. Since the average U.S. worker spends forty hours a week at their job, it’s important to protect workers and safeguard them from both bullying and discrimination. In fact, a whopping 68% of people in the U.S.–both Democrats and Republicans–believe it should be illegal to fire someone based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity; unfortunately, 60% of people already believe this protection exists–when it doesn’t.

Therefore, although support for these laws exists, many people don’t realize they’re needed: Having never been victims in the workplace or faced job discrimination for who they are, people aren’t necessarily able to relate to the concerns and fears held by the LGBT community.

On the other hand, very much like how marriage is recognizable, it’s also relatable–when we speak about marriage, desiring to be married, and finally being married, potential allies know exactly what we’re talking about. We don’t need to illustrate with examples or statistics; they understand immediately.

Conclusion: Marriage is a vehicle for social change.

It should be clear by now that marriage is recognizable and relatable, remarkably visible, and transcends age and race. Together these five facts help make marriage a powerful social force in the fight for LGBT rights.

As marriage equality spreads across the nation (and even the world), people will be more exposed to LGBT couples and being part of the LGBT community will become normalized. As this awareness spreads and understanding increases, transgender issues, prisoners and workplace rights, and defeating both ageism and racism within the LGBT community will move closer in reach. Certainly, these are all obtainable without marriage equality, but marriage equality will help us reach them faster and allow us to build new coalitions to impact not only the LGBT community, but everyone in the human community.

Marriage may be the next step in the LGBT Rights Movement, but it certainly won’t be the last. As we fight to win this battle, especially as victory draws closer, we must begin talking more about other issues facing the LGBT community–not just these, but also immigration rights, ending domestic abuse and relationship violence, accepting the asexual and polyamorous/ nonmonogamous communities, and defeating HIV/AIDS forever.

Through working together, building upon marriage victories instead of brushing them aside, we will help bring full equality to all LGBT people in our lifetimes. I believe it can be done, and I believe it will be done.

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4 thoughts on “Five Facts Why Marriage Matters

  1. Marriage rights may be easier to get but I personally think that focusing an equal amount of effort on trans rights is just as -if not more important- than marriage equality. Equal marriage rights have been in place in Canada since 2005; nine years later and there has been little to no progress in transgender people’s rights. So no, advancing marriage equality will not benefit the trans community in terms of human rights (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage#Canada). It’s LGBT, not LGB.

    One of the biggest issues is that it is very very difficult -and in some cases impossible- for transgender people to get the proper medical care, get a job without being discriminated against, being able to report a hate crime, not be murdered just for existing, etc. These are basic human needs that are not currently being met by the law,; yes marriage is important, but when people are literally begging for money online because they can’t get or maintain a job because of discrimination, it becomes a lot more obvious which is top priority.

    A very problematic part of helping the general public understand transgender people is that we are much fewer than the gay & bisexual community; and there are even fewer allies of trans people. Quite a few of us transition and then go stealth, resulting in less of us who are visibly trans/out as transgender. We are almost invisible to the mainstream besides bad television tropes and as objects to be laughed at.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts; I sincerely appreciate them, and they help me to learn. My assumption that same-sex marriage rights will increase visibility for the LGBT community may be weakest in regards to transgender rights, as you’ve pointed out the lack of correlation of progress in Canada, but I still don’t believe we should spend any less time speaking about marriage equality. However, I agree completely that we need to speak a lot more about transgender rights, and if we can reach the same levels of attention and awareness that marriage currently has, that would be wonderful.

      The key, I believe, is realizing that we don’t need to speak about one thing less to speak about another thing more. There are enough people fighting for equality that we can raise all our voices to be heard without sacrificing any one part of the community in the false belief it will always benefit the whole. There are people now who aren’t saying very much, who can say more, and there are people who aren’t saying anything; they surely need to speak up.

      When it comes to political activism, I think we’re afforded a great blessing by the times we live in. Without outing ourselves to the public–even our immediate peers–we’re able to write to our legislatures, give them phone calls, and through social media, increase awareness of issues without risking our personal privacy. Compared to other social movements of the past–such as the fight for black equality throughout the twentieth century–people who tried to gain their rights were publicized and victimized, in an effort to suppress their voice. With today’s technology, this is no longer a threat. We need to hone this privilege past generations has given us and use it to fight for the rights we deserve.

      In the Unites States, transgender rights are at least in a very small part synonymous with marriage rights: given the restrictions on changing birth certificates, some transgender individuals are barred from the right to marry, and marriage equality would remove this obstacle. Ultimately, it is an inadequate solution, but at least in the meanwhile, it can and will help people to create better lives for themselves–and that, I believe, is just as important.

      Since 2010, we also have the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to add hate crimes protection for LGB and T people in the United States. We also have current legislation in the works (held up by opponents in the House) that would alleviate employment discrimination for the entire LGBT community. These efforts, however, are constrained to the United States, and many other countries are not at the same place in regards to these issues.

      My hope for this post was twofold: first to dissuade people from abandoning the fight for marriage equality, and second to encourage people to begin advocating for other rights the LGBT community must acquire to be truly equal citizens. My experience speaks from the perspective of those in the United States, but this argument goes for all people, no matter where in the world they are. And as I said, speaking more about other issues does not mean speaking less about marriage. I believe we have the power–collectively and individually–to speak to each of these issues, and so win the equality that’s rightfully ours.

      Once again, thank you for commenting. It means very much to me.

      • Well said, I very much agree with you in all aspects. Thanks for the info about the legislature, I don’t know too much about American laws and now I know a bit more. Follow me if you want, I am slowly pumping out more trans related articles, albeit I will be writing some on philosophy and religion at some distant point in the future. :)

      • Thanks for replying again! ^__^ I’ll certainly follow you–I do want to be more aware of trans issues, of course, but I also enjoy philosophy and religion!

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