COLUMN: The fight for equality isn’t over

There is still a long way to go before the U.S. finally achieves equality, as seen with recent U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Abigail Ruhman is a sophomore journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life, politics and social issues for The Maneater.

This column is part one of Abigail Ruhman’s “Twelve Gays of Christmas: The Sequel” series. Twelve Gays of Christmas is a 12-column series about a variety of LGBTQ topics. During the holidays, members of the LGBTQ community are more likely to experience depression. By informing readers of the issues facing the LGBTQ community, these columns are meant to support the community this holiday season. This year is the second year of this series and shows that even though it can seem like things are fine, there is still a lot of discrimination and challenges facing the LGTBQ community.

There is something nauseating about watching the U.S. Supreme Court discuss your identity as if there was a reason it could be used against you. For marginalized groups, this has been a reality since the 1800s. While discrimination and dehumanization go back so much further, there is something unique about a country founded on freedom denying you just that in the highest court.

This year, the queer and gender-nonconforming community saw three cases make it to the Supreme Court, and that gut-wrenching feeling returned. Two of the cases focused on gay men who were fired because of their sexuality, while the other was about a transgender woman who was fired because her boss disapproved of her gender identity. Despite the belief that marriage equality meant the end of the queer and gender-nonconforming rights movement, this year the community once again saw their rights put at risk. For the first time ever, the Supreme Court saw a case on transgender rights, and no one is sure how it will go.

At this point, the community shouldn’t have to be scared that the Supreme Court won’t support them, but it’s a real possibility. With the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, this Supreme Court is the most conservative the U.S. has seen since the 1930s. Politics seems to be heading in a more conservative direction, but not by the will of the people.

In 2016, the presidential candidate who won was not selected by the popular vote. While that may sound like old news, Donald Trump gained a large influence on the nation without actually having the majority of it behind him. The Supreme Court now has a conservative majority, but that move doesn’t align with public opinion.

The Supreme Court is debating LGBTQ rights, but it doesn't reflect the values of our American climate. These three cases could act as a precedent to protect queer and gender-nonconforming workers, or those who oppress the community.

The battle for queer liberation isn’t over, and claiming that it is ends up hurting the community in the long run. In today’s world, people are still worried that the court meant to protect them will leave them without the backing they need. This applies to every marginalized group, but these cases highlight the fact that the queer rights movement didn’t stop after marriage equality was protected by the Supreme Court.

These cases haven’t been decided on yet, which means the queer community will go into 2020 without truly knowing how the Supreme Court will side. However, this isn’t the only area where the fight for equality is taking place. The community is still fighting in their personal, professional and public lives. The battle isn’t over, and that means there is still something everyone can do and learn.

For the community, there is hope. People are still fighting for you, and they will continue to fight for you. You deserve the opportunity to feel safe and happy with your sexuality and gender identity, and that is not too much to ask for. It can be hard to believe that progress is still possible, but it is.

For allies or people outside of the community, you can help the queer and gender-nonconforming community. Learning more about the issues facing the community and researching ways to help means something. It means you are actively trying. Being an ally is more than coming to pride or saying you love your gay best friend. It’s speaking up even if no one else does and working to call out prejudice and discrimination. The community doesn’t get days off from being queer or gender-nonconforming, so being an ally shouldn’t come with built-in vacation time.

The U.S. should be past these issues already. People are still fighting for the right to exist and be protected. Everyone has a role in the fight for equality. The battle isn’t over until there aren’t enough problems in the world to do a 12-column series for a college newspaper.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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