Throughout U.S. history, certain segments of the population have struggled to overcome discrimination. These groups are often in the minority and are singled out for somehow being different. From immigrant and religious groups to women and black Americans, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s now hard to believe there was a time when a woman wasn’t allowed to vote or a black man wasn’t allowed to sit in the front of a bus.
Last Friday on June 26, 2015, the long-fought battle of another minority group came to an end as the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. For gay men and women, the Supreme Court’s decision was validation that they are entitled to the same rights as same-sex couples to marry the person they love and reap the financial benefits that marriage affords.
While last week’s ruling was a huge win for gay and lesbian rights advocates, like all civil rights struggles, this one is far from being over. Currently, there is no federal law banning discrimination against gay and lesbian employees. Nineteen states have passed legislation enacting bans on discrimination against gay and transgender people and three other states, including New York, have bans that “extend only to gay people.” However, 28 states have no such laws and private employers in these states are allowed to discriminate against and fire gay or transgender employees at will.
Opposition to bans on discrimination against gay and lesbian employees remains widespread in many states. However, proponents of such bans are hopeful that the recent Supreme Court ruling will spur individual states or the federal government to act.
Source: Washington Post, “Ending discrimination in workplace, other areas is next gay rights battle,” Sandhya Somashekhar, June 5, 2015