Today marks the first 100 days of the new administration.
President Obama has been saying that we should hold our government accountable. So, we have created the Legal Equality Index. This is a tool that can be used to hold our leaders accountable. Check its webpage with lots of clear information about the status of LGBT legal equality.
Our Legal Equality Index shows that 40 years after Stonewall, we are still 0% equal.
Keeping the goals in place
Accountability requires us to be informed, active, and vocal. When Speaker Pelosi now says that repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is no longer on the active agenda (essentially moving the goal post), then we should be diligent in pushing to get something else passed, in addition to Hate Crimes and trans-inclusive ENDA. There are eleven other areas of legislation that could be approved.
Blueprint for LGBT equality
Legal equality should be easy to legislate. A large majority of Americans support providing us the same protections that other groups receive, no more, no less. In some cases, it is just a matter of adding "sexual orientation and gender identity and expression" to existing language protecting Americans from discrimination due to race, gender, national origin, religion, etc. eQualityGiving has already done the work of specifying exactly what needs to be done to achieve 100% legal equality and has even proposed specific legislation. Check our Blueprint for LGBT equality.
40 years and still waiting for equality
Some people will point out that the administration and Congress have been busy these 100 days with two wars, an economy in disarray, and a health care crisis now compounded by the potential of a pandemic disease. All this is true.
Others will point out that what needs to be done for LGBT equality is clear and finite. It can be passed quickly, if the commitment and leadership are there. If we continue to wait for all these problems to be resolved in order to get equality, we could be waiting years, maybe forever. We should be reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr:
"A right delayed is a right denied"
In a few weeks, it will be the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall. Four decades later, there are no federal laws protecting LGBT Americans... still waiting for equality.
We are looking forward to Congress approving the Hate Crimes bill and President Obama signing it very soon. This will be a welcome first step towards legal equality. We will keep our Legal Equal Index updated and add points as soon as this and any other legislation is signed into law.
Let's work to get to 100% equal quickly.