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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Marriage not same as LGBT equality

Genesis Lara

Just as it was beginning to feel like the U.S. was taking a great step toward equality for the LGBTQ community with same-sex marriages, the nation decided to take two steps back: A new law in Indiana allows businesses to discriminate against gay people.

This newly opened window for hate crimes is being justified as a way of protecting citizens’ freedom of religion. But the protection of religious freedom does not consist of allowing hatred and discrimination against a certain group of people.

We always see headlines about new states that have passed same-sex marriage bills, but we aren’t often informed of those events in which a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning person was beaten or killed.

For example, on Feb. 11, the Daily Mail reported that a college football player in Texas murdered his girlfriend after finding out she was transgender. How could it be that such a hate crime did not make headlines across the nation? Was it not important to discuss how the state’s hate crime law did not protect the victim?

According to the Movement Advancement Project, while many states’ hate crime laws now protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, there are still 15 states that only cover sexual orientation and 14 states that don’t cover either.

What kind of message is this sending out to the general public? As a society, we are always striving toward racial equality or women’s rights. Yet, when it comes to matters of equality among the LGBTQ community, we only practice hypocrisy.

“A lot of people fear that they have to hide who they are,” said Chris Sogge, the LGBTQ Affairs graduate assistant. “It’s like [the] paranoia of living a double life.”

Having friends who are afraid to come out due to the verbal abuse they’ll encounter, it terrifies me even more that they may also become targets for physically violent hate crimes.

It is a relief to know there are pride organizations to help people in the LGBTQ community build resilience toward physical and emotional abuse. However, this just goes to show how normal it has become for the LGBTQ community to suffer from discrimination. So normal, there are hundreds of organizations across the nation that exist to help with these traumatic experiences.

As reported by The Washington Post, there are many countries around the world where homosexuality is still punishable by state-sanctioned death, including Iran, Yemen and Mauritania.

“The United States is a big contributor in other cultures,” Sogge said, “but that just means that we have to set a really good standard here.”

With fairly recent accomplishments regarding same-sex marriage, the U.S. is slowly becoming more inclusive of the LGBTQ community, but that is not enough.

We live in a country known for its liberty and freedom; yet, thousands are afraid to express their true identities. It is time we stop making social norms out of hatred and violence.

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Genesis Lara is a freshman studying journalism, Spanish and French. Follow her on Twitter.

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