12 Reasons Marriage Equality isn’t Enough for the LGBTQ+ Community

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The Liberal Mystique

Just your average free-spirited menstruation enthusiast who enjoys fighting the patriarch with their uterus.

On June 26th 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, meaning that marriage equality is now recognized nationwide.  YAY!

While this is awesome, marriage equality is only one step in the right direction. There are still many problems facing the LGBTQ+ community that need addressing, especially in regard to race and class. Marriage equality is hardly the end for the LGBTQ+ movement; in fact, it’s only the beginning.

Here are 12 battles the LGBTQ+ community is still fighting:

  1. “Gay Panic” Defense & “Trans Panic” Defense
Illustration by Michael Hili

In 49 states, Gay Panic Defense is legal. A Gay Panic Defense allows for someone to get away with the assault or murder of individuals who are queer or transgender by claiming that the way they acted was due to a state of violent insanity and is therefore justifiable. The last publicized use of the Gay Panic Defense was in 2010 when James McGee killed Richard Barrett.  McGee claimed that Barrett dropped his pants and asked McGee to perform sexual acts, sending McGee into a “panic” that resulted in murder. Since then, only California has ruled the Gay Panic Defense illegal.

Along the same lines is Trans panic defense, when an individual claims that killing a transgendered person was justified because of their panicked reaction to their gender identity. This came up again just this week when US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton used the trans panic defense as justification for the killing of a transgendered Filipina woman named Jennifer Laude.

  1. Conversion Therapy
Illustration by Keith Negley

Conversion therapy is any “treatment” that aims to make queer people straight or, for trans people, to conform to societal gender roles that reflect their assigned gender at birth. Treatments for conversion therapy involve electric shock to the hands and/or genitals, nausea-inducing drugs, and masturbatory reconditioning. Conversion therapy is the violent negation of queer children’s identity; it has lifelong impacts that affect emotional and mental health. Leelah Alcorn attributed her death to conversion therapy.

  1. Suicide


Suicide rates among LGBTQ teens skyrocket above the general population. Depression and drug use among LGBTQ people have been shown to increase after laws that discriminate against the queer community have passed (Saunders and Valente, 1987). High suicide rates are the result of heterocentric cultures and homophobia.

  1. Homelessness
lgbt_youth_homeless (1)
Colin Davis/Flickr

Homelessness among LGBTQ youth is widespread in the United States. Many queer individuals do not have a stable place to call home because their parents kick them out of the house or because they choose to run away due to conflict, abuse, or neglect. Many young LGBTQ kids are “couch surfing” with friends and other members of the community. Queer children are often subject to living on the street due to lack of shelters available. When these queer individuals are pushed out of homes, they are more at risk for sexual abuse and exploitation.

  1. Sexually active gay men are still banned from giving blood


During the 1980s, there was a widespread panic over the spread of HIV/AIDS; the disease was thought to be spread through gay men, so to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, the FDA ruled a lifetime ban prohibiting gay men from giving blood. If a man were reported to have had at least one man-on-man sexual encounter they would be prohibited from donating blood, even when blood banks have low supply. This 30-year ban illustrates institutionalized homophobia, and is still in place today (Galarneau, 2010).

  1. Jobs
<> on May 20, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Though there are some states and companies protecting against discrimination, there are not many laws protecting queer or trans people from being unjustly fired or discriminated against. It is hard for queer people to find jobs that are not discriminatory, leaving many unemployed. There are also no anti-discriminatory laws prohibiting employers from firing trans folk because of their gender identity.

  1. Police violence
Don Arnold/Getty Images

There is a rise in the brutal treatment of transgender people by anti-queer police. Trans and queer people face bashings, harassment, and sexual assault when they become victims of profiling. These profiling techniques involve treating gender as a disorder and perceive folks as disorderly and suspicious (Ritchie and Mogul, 2007).

  1. Child custody and adoption

Men with sleepy child

It is a significantly more difficult process for same sex couples to fight for child custody than it is for heterosexual couples. For same-sex marriages, many states do not allow for joint custody of children. Since same sex marriage has been legalized, this concept may have new outcomes, but it’s important to realize that even intersections of this new legal action have flaws.

  1. Trans people in prison
1prison (Dereskey Flickr)_0

Trans prisoners who have not undergone gender reconstruction are forced into prisons based on sex, not gender, which can cause psychological violence if they are outted. Trans women in prison are vulnerable to violence and sexual assault when incarcerated with males. It is estimated that  40% of trans folks are sexually abused in prison. There is a legal struggle that adds complexities to inmate life that spillover to their families. For example: A trans woman was forced to dress as a man during visitation with her children because the court system deemed it would confuse her children (Robertson and Kunzel, 2008).

  1. Sexual health education doesn’t include gay or lesbian sex

In classrooms across the nation, children are being taught “straight” sexual health education regardless of their sexuality. Modern sexual health education does not have a clear approach of queer inclusion and how to be sexually healthy when having romantic relations with someone whom is of the same sex. This lack of inclusion tells society that gays and lesbians can’t and should not be sexually discussed.

  1. Queer children aren’t protected by anti-bullying laws


Queer youth all over the country are harassed and physically attacked everyday because of their identity. Currently, most anti-bullying laws involving queer children are so vague that they encompass anything. While there have been efforts to end bullying among queer children, violence is still ongoing. The legal outlet does not protect queer children who are survivors of bullying (Stockton, 2009).  There is a higher “bullying” suicide rate for queer youth when being compared to heterosexual youth (see #3). In Tennessee it is legal for queer kids to get bullied because of religious freedom.

  1. States still consider consensual queer sex illegal


In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting homosexual intercourse are unconstitutional. However, in thirteen states, intercourse involving two people of the same sex is still considered a crime. So, because of this, queer people are being thrown into jail. There haven’t been any important recent cases since Lawrence V. Texas, but the no-sex decision illustrates a lack of institutional accountability towards queer people.

Marriage equality is the end of one struggle for LGBTQ+ people. However, it does nothing to protect the community from the rest of the circulating bullshit. We need to realize that these problems are still prevalent and that these battles still need to be fought.




Galarneau, C. (2010). Blood donation, deferral, and discrimination: FDA donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men. The American journal of bioethics10(2), 29-39.

Patterson, C. J. (2006). Children of lesbian and gay parents. Current directions in psychological science15(5), 241-244.

Ritchie, A. J., & Mogul, J. L. (2007). In the shadows of the war on terror: Persistent police brutality and abuse of people of color in the United States.DePaul J. Soc. Just.1, 175.

Robertson, S., & Kunzel, R. (2009). Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality. The Journal of American History, 281-281.

Saunders, J. M., & Valente, S. M. (1987). Suicide risk among gay men and lesbians: A review. Death Studies11(1), 1-23. 

Stockton, K. B. (2009). The queer child, or growing sideways in the twentieth century. Duke University Press.