2014 was a big year for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Marriage equality headway was made, trans visibility in the media improved immensely, and major equal rights organizations placed LGBT rights at the forefront. Here are five major wins for the LGBT community that took place over the last year:
- Gay and lesbian couples earned the right to marry in 35 states and counting. As Mic points out, “marriage is legally important because it affords 1,138 rights, benefits and protections” to couples. It also signifies basic human equality, and provides dignity to gay and lesbian couples who wish to have their partnerships recognized. The fight for marriage equality gained major momentum in 2014, and now gay and lesbian couples can wed in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
- President Obama expanded rights for LGBT people. In July, President Obama signed an order that outlaws federal contractors from discriminating against a person based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Essentially, this motion creates more equality for LGBT people in the workplace, and protects them from discrimination. This isn’t the first time Obama has made an effort to advocate for the LGBT community. In May, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Obama released a statement that read in part: “At a time when, tragically, we are seeing increased efforts to criminalize or oppress LGBT persons, we call on our partners everywhere to join us in defending the equal rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters, and in ensuring they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
- LGBT characters were represented more in media and entertainment. According to GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report, an annual summary of LGBT representation on television, “Out of 813 primetime broadcast scripted series regulars, 32 will be LGBT this year,” which signifies 3.9%, up from last year’s 3.3%. Shows like “The Fosters,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Transparent” have been great for shining a spotlight on more diverse identities and characters.
- Visibility for Transgender and Bisexual identities increased. Within the LGBT rights movement, gay and lesbian people have always been more accepted socially; bisexual people often experience erasure and invalidation, and transgender people face disproportionate violence and invalidating treatment. This year, with help from groups like the Bisexual Resource Center, individual bloggers, and high profile bisexual and transgender individuals (we’re looking at you Laverne Cox), more conversations about bisexual and transgender identities took place in the media and on the web than in years past.
- Obamacare expanded to include more coverage for LGBT people. Did you know that the LGBT community is nearly 5% less likely to have health care insurance than non-LGBT Americans? In 2014 Obamacare sought to change this, and announced in a White House press release that “insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against anyone due to a pre-existing condition. And because of the law, insurers can no longer turn someone away just because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” making it explicitly clear to healthcare providers that they are not to discriminate against the LGBT community.
2014 was a big year for LGBT rights. We’re anxious to find out if 2015 will contain more activism, change, and progress that will lead to a more equal world.