I have come to this conclusion; no matter how convincing some of my conservative friends and family members are about supporting marriage-equality, they will never fully take a serious stance against their political party’s discriminatory views toward the LGBT community because gay-equality (my equality) does not directly affect them.
I have a niece who votes Republican. She claims to be pro-gay, yet her support for equality stops short of actually making a difference because of her staunch GOP affiliation. An example was during the Obama/Romney presidential election. Republican nominee Mitt Romney was adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and spoke frequently about it during his campaign. He also was opposed to gays serving openly in the military and threatened to reverse President Obama’s repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The Republican party has a long history of discrimination against gays, which includes most recently, the prevention of The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) from becoming law. My niece voted for Mitt Romney anyway.
I have many lifelong “straight” friends, all of whom claim to fully support LGBT equality, but only a few have actively and vocally campaigned to end discrimination against the gay community through their political votes and/or activism. The others support equality, but not at the expense of voting outside of their politically conservative comfort zones. In other words, the below list of rights denied to gay couples is less significant to them.
(Credit for list goes to About.com)
- Protection from Discrimination: In many states, you do not have the right to protection from harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- Joint Taxes: GLBT couples cannot file taxes jointly; as a result, taxes for a GLBT couple can be significantly higher.
- Hospital Visitation: GLBT couples have no legal right to visit a spouse in the hospital and can be barred from entering the room by medical personnel.
- Estate Taxes: GLBT couples cannot pass their estate to a spouse tax-free, which creates a huge tax burden that can result in the loss of a spouse’s home or business.
- Job Security: In a majority of states, employees can be fired just for being gay.
- Immigration: GLBT partners are denied special consideration for the immigration of a spouse, often resulting in a painful separation when a loved one is from a foreign country.
- Property Taxes: GLBT partners must pay property tax when transferring property between spouses.
- Social Security: GLBT partners are not eligible to receive a spouse’s Social Security pension or many other government benefits.
- Medical Decisions: During a medical crisis, GLBT couples cannot legally make treatment decisions for their partners.
- Domestic Violence: GLBT people cannot get domestic violence protection orders against a partner or former partner.
The scope of LGBT discrimination goes far beyond a list of legalities and rights. Social discrimination leads to bullying, violence, and even death. Suicide, depression, substance abuse, and poverty are common side-affects of LGBT discrimination.
What hurts the most deeply is my conservative family members’ and friends’ unwillingness to fully understand (or care) how their Republican vote continues to oppress and harm the quality of my life and the lives of several million other gay people across the country. Perhaps, one day, the Republican platform will change and accept full LGBT equality, but today isn’t that day.
Not surprising are the excuses given to me by the conservatives for their votes, as they tend to justify their choice by insisting “Republican policy” will make the nation prosperous and everybody will benefit by it. What that really means is; “I only care about your civil-rights if I don’t have to help you get them.”
Over the years, I have distanced myself from the people in my life that have minimized the importance of LGBT equality and replaced them with wonderful friends who have the ability, strength, and integrity to fight against inequality for us all.
In closing, I’d like to express how much my heart aches at being thrown under the bus by the same people who I have loved throughout my lifetime. I still care about them, but I will never fully believe their sincerity in saying they care about me. And that, my friends, is truly a loss because I can be fiercely devoted to those whom I trust and love.