LGBTQ activists contend for rights beyond marriage equality

Members of San Francisco State’s Pride float committee hold signs as they begin to march down Market Street as a part of San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Photo by Gavin McIntyre / Xpress

The recent Supreme Court decision repealing Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in June moved the LGBTQ community one step closer to equality and set off celebrations across the city.

The fight for total equality, however, rages on.

Deborah Brown, sociology and sexual studies lecturer said issues of greater importance are being overlooked.

“They’re worried about getting a job, safe housing and healthcare,” said Brown. “Not getting married.”

Issues such as healthcare, livable wages, access to jobs, hate crime prosecution and bullying in the LGBTQ community have taken a backseat to the marriage issue, Brown said.

The repeal of Section 3 of DOMA ensures that same sex couples receive the same rights as heterosexual couples, but that hasn’t stopped SF State student activists like Sam Mintz who has pledged to continue the fight for equality.

“Legalizing same-sex marriage is more than just the legal rights it comes with,” said Mintz. “It’s about establishing ourselves as a community that will fight for equality and won’t stand for being treated as second-class citizens.”

Some provisions of DOMA remain legal including Section 2, which gives states the right to choose whether or not to allow same sex marriages.

“Section 2 is still in place, so we need to continue the fight if we’re going to achieve our fully equal rights,” said Mintz.

Transgender equality is another issue that Mintz believes needs better public awareness.

“We really need to start paying attention to the trans community more and fight for their rights and protections,” said Mintz.

Like gay marriage, transgender equality has also taken a step forward with the passing of AB-1266, which gives K-12 students the right to use any restroom or locker room they feel comfortable in, regardless of gender. It also allows them the right to be involved in any activity regardless of gender.

This advance has come with some controversy, however.

Rev. Jesse Peterson from Los Angeles has called upon parents to remove their kids from public schools in protest of AB-1266 and California State Assemblyman Tim Donnely has removed his son from public school.

SF State has also felt the effects of the fight for transgender equality.

While there are six gender neutral restrooms on campus, the HSS building, which houses the behavioral and social sciences, has no gender-neutral restrooms.

Despite the need for further legal reforms, however, activists say the court’s decision comes with great benefits.

“One of the really good things about this is that it benefits bi-national couples,” said Queer Resource Center Director Cassidy Barrington. “Same sex couples where one person is not an American citizen and they’ve had problems with deportation and visas, have a much easier time now.”

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