HRC Blog

Six Realities for the LGBT Community in the South

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This week, HRC is on tour in the Deep South to launch Project One America, a comprehensive campaign to dramatically expand LGBT equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.

Here are a few of the realities for the LGBT community in these states:

  1. LGBT people can be fired for who they are or whom they love. Not one southern state has explicit employment non-discrimination protections. In Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, a quarter of LGBT people reported experiencing discrimination in employment or public accommodation.
  2. You can be refused service at local businesses. Mississippi recently enacted a "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" that fails to prohibit discrimination against customers based on business owners' personal religious beliefs.  This permits restaurants, inns or hotels to potentially turn away same-sex couples and even allows pharmacists to refuse to provide hormone replacement therapy drugs.
  3. Hate crime? You might be out of luck. Six southern states (Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia) lack LGBT inclusion in their state hate crime prevention laws and three more southern states(Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas) have no hate crimes prevention legislation on the books at all. The federal hate crimes prevention law doesn’t cover every hate crime.
  4. Your partner gets sick? You might not be able to make medical decisions for them. A lack of equality permits hospitals to treat partners like legal strangers. LGBT people face an additional and painful burden of social stigma and second class citizenship.
  5. There are local leaders pushing their anti-LGBT, hateful agenda. Earlier this year, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore called on all state governors to sign on to his campaign to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Moore claimed “a great majority of the American people want to hold to the definition that a marriage is between a man and a woman." In actuality, an overwhelming 58 percent of Americans support marriage equality. In 201,3 Arkansas passed House Resolution 1049 which reaffirmed the Arkansas House of Representatives support for “traditional marriage” as defined in the Arkansas Constitution and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  6. There are more LGBT families in the South than you might think. Mississippi has the single highest percentage of gay and lesbian couples raising children of any state in the country, but these parents are making do without essential legal protections or inclusion in their community.

Project One America is the largest coordinated campaign for LGBT equality in the history of the South. To join the driving force for equality and to help change this reality for the LGBT community and build a more equal nation, visit www.hrc.org/projectoneamerica.

 

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