In North Carolina, there was a bill signed into law that denies transgender men and women from using the bathroom of their gender identity. This bill, officially known as HB2, defines the classes of people who are protected against discrimination – race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap and biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate – but sexual orientation was never protected under this law.
In Mississippi, there is a new law recently passed that lets any person or business deny service to same-sex couples if they claim religious objections. This also gives anyone or any business the right to fire or not hire those in the LGBT community, allows foster parents to place lesbian, gay or transgender children in programs aimed to change their sexual orientation, and deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
Tennessee has passed a bill that not only denies transgender the right to use the bathroom that goes with their gender identity, but allows mental health professionals to refuse to treat LGBT patients.
According to the Huffington Post, “[t]here are more than 100 active bills like this right now, across 22 states.” For years, religious conservatives have been working toward passing these discrimination laws. Some laws have thankfully not passed in states like Arizona and Georgia because of backlash from the community, but there is still a huge risk of more laws passing under the radar of the public.
What these laws mean is that despite the progress made over the years, we still have a long way to go in terms of acceptance and inclusion. As someone who believes in the total equality for all, these laws outrage me, and they should outrage you as well. No matter what your beliefs or religious/political affiliation, you should be angry that our fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters, are not being given the same rights and treatment as everyone else. No one should have to worry about where they can use the restroom or whether or not they will be fired just because they are gay, lesbian, or transgender. No one should have to be told they are not protected under the law in their home state. I will continue to fight in anyway I can to end discrimination, and while I know it will be a long uphill battle, it is worth it.