Gay Rights: Today's Civil Rights Challenge Thesis

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Gay Rights: Today's Civil Rights Challenge

The conservatism of America's identity has often come to clash violently with the progressivism of its ideology, with the end result, optimistically speaking, bringing the two sides into closer congress with one another. Today, this struggle is ongoing for many groups. Highly publicized and continually underprivileged amongst them is America's homosexual demographic. Still subjected explicitly to a public discourse in which their characteristics inherently relegate them to deviant, minority status, the gay and lesbian communities are currently very deeply engaged in a struggle for acknowledgement under a more sociologically sound identity. The movement for improved political unity, legal status and social treatment revolves on the appropriate correlation between civil rights and homosexuality. Typically, those who have worked to obstruct gay rights for ideological, political or cultural reasons have balked at identifying this as a civil rights issue, instead regarding homosexuality as a lifestyle decision, This divergence of perspective has allowed for the wholesale preoccupation on the part of conservative ideologues, Republican political leaders and members of the religious right with the prevention and erosion of gay rights through political action, legislation and a general pattern of social isolation.

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Today, the efforts to improve the prospects for gay rights such as marriage and adoption proceed along the lines of progress that have marked the collective understanding of homosexuality. Particularly, advocacy groups that have made remarkable steps in recent decades have taken a concerted interest in going beyond the formation of civil unions and toward the recognition of marriage along with full marriage rights.

TOPIC: Thesis on Gay Rights: Today's Civil Rights Challenge the Assignment

For instance, the country-wide National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce was founded in 1973 and can boast a litany of accomplishments on the national scale on behalf of its demographic. Among them, the organization would successfully press for the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder by the American Psychological Association (APA) and would pursue a legislative repealing of national and state sodomy laws. It has been a leading force in moving political leaders toward a more progressive position on issues such as gay marriage. Indeed, because of the efforts of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce (NGLTF), this issue of gay marriage is on the table where only two decades ago this would have been seen as unthinkable.

Today, the Task Force demonstrates itself to be largely involved in the commission and issue of policy reports contributing a necessarily growing progressive academic understanding of the economic, racial and sociological realities impacting gays in America and elsewhere. Thus, its more recent achievements are primarily those concerning its empirical research to the ends of its demographics' greater recognition as a social and political group. This accounts for such pronouncements on its site that in February of 2005, "the Policy Institute release[d] a landmark study on black same-sex households in major American cities, confirming that such same-sex households are almost as likely as black married opposite-sex couple households to include children and . . . more likely to work in the public sector, and that they earn less than married black couples." (NGLTF) This is an indication of the disadvantages which many homosexual couples must overcome in the first instance. Therefore, we can see that there is clearly a need for a greater push for the progress of this group in the area of marriage, both statewide and on the federal level. In both, this is quite clearly a civil rights issue.

Another clear civil rights issue is that relating to the homosexuality and the workplace. For many, this remains an overlooked area in terms of human resource management, sensitivity training and ethical treatment. This is, like many patterns in workplace diversity management, reflective of a larger cultural aversion toward those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Many places of business will take it upon themselves to include sexual orientation among the characteristics of diversity that are protected against insensitivity, discrimination or harassment. However, in more contexts than not in the United States, this remains a decision at the discretion of employers. This is because no federal laws exist to protect homosexuals against discrimination such as harassment or termination on the basis of sexual orientation.

And on a state by state level, the majority of state governments have yet to address this matter legislatively. Therefore, "in 34 states, it is still perfectly legal for lesbian and gay employees to be fired simply because their employers discover, and disapprove of, their sexual orientation." (Head, 1) This indicates that the failure of employers to properly protect against discrimination or harassment of homosexuals is actually a problem of legal regulation. For the larger part, the general public has shown a greater tendency toward progressive orientation in this area than has the government. In spite of the absence of federal law protecting against unjust dismissal, there is a broad consensus that such a law would be appropriate. To this point, Head (2006) reports that "85% of Americans oppose job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 61% would like to see such job discrimination prohibited at a federal level. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been proposed several times since 1996, failing each time under the Republican-controlled Congress despite broad bipartisan support." (Head, 1)

For all intents and purposes, this absence of legislation has the effect of seriously compromising workplace comfort, security and productivity by reducing job security for homosexuals. Indeed, where no explicit protections exist -- or worse, where discrimination reigns freely, productivity and effectiveness suffer. As Anitel (2007) indicates, "being gay in a straight society is a difficult task, as rejection comes from all sides. A new research made on over 500 American gay, lesbian and bisexual employees discovered that 'fears about disclosing a gay identity at work had an overwhelmingly negative relationship with their career and workplace experiences and with their psychological well-being.'" (Anitel, 1)

Again, in the Anitel study, all indications would be that the general public is prepared to see a change in this area. The vulnerability experienced by homosexuals at the workplace differs from that of almost every other demographic in the United States insofar as it continues to be denied status as a civil rights group. Still, evidence suggests that a change in this perspective may soon permeate legislative thinking, as it already has permeated the minds of the public. Indeed "the vast majority of Americans think that it is unfair to discriminate against people for personal characteristics that are unrelated to their actual job performance. For example, the May 2007 Gallup Poll reported that 89% of Americans believe that employment discrimination against lesbian and gay people should be illegal." (Anitel, 1) As the thrust of this discussion illustrates, this belief is likely to eventually transition to legal change.

The general political drive of homosexual organizations is best captured in the difficult debate over marriage though, as it has made the most significant headlines for ideologues on both sides of the issue. With states such as California especially, the issue is extremely complex and ridden with political overtones. To the point, "a court case that affects thousands of same-sex couples still simmers in California, the nation's vanguard of social change. In 2008, California's high court granted full marriage rights in the most populace state in the nation. But months later, voters overturned that decision, adopting a constitutional ban that threw into question 18,000 weddings performed for same-sex partners and dealt the gay rights movement a significant defeat." (Vestal, 1)

Today, though events in California have cast the presumption of gay rights into some temporary doubt, it seems quite apparent that everything which has occurred across the last decade is suggestive of an evermore empowered gay rights movement and of a public ever more ready to allow their rights to be acknowledged. Even the significant efforts mounted against same-sex marriage have… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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