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The State of New York’s LGBT Community

For the fourth consecutive year, President Barack Obama has declared June the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month”: the 30-day period for pondering the rights of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens. Once again, he called upon “the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice wherever it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”

The 2012 Presidential Proclamation promotes equal treatment for all, including those who belong to groups classified by sexual orientation and gender identity. It also affirms society’s – or at least the Obama administration’s – unwavering position on gay rights.

In December 2011, before the international community, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the United States government’s global strategy to assert gay rights: by using diplomacy and foreign assistance. Secretary Clinton knew that her remarks regarding the Recognition of International Human Rights Day would elicit a mixture of visceral reactions. Secretary Clinton said “(N)o practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing.”

Gay rights, Secretary Clinton said, should not be separated from other basic human rights. And no society should be excused from discriminating against LGBT citizens – let alone from brutally mistreating any one of them because of their lifestyle.

The Obama Administration’s position is a bold step marching towards equality.

In the Land of the Free

American citizens continue to struggle with reconciling their personal views about gay rights. There are no federal laws specifically enacted to protect gay rights. LGBT citizens deserve the same degree of respect and level of civil rights protections as “straight”, heterosexual citizens.

Nearly, forty-three (43) years ago today, the Stonewall Riots occurred. Late in the evening of June 27th 1969, the police raided a tavern frequented by homosexuals in Greenwich Village, and arrested patrons based upon their lifestyle. The following day, scores of activists got involved in several violent confrontations with the police protesting the treatment of gays and lesbians. The Stonewall Riots inspired the creation of gay pride organizations across the United States.

Some four decades later, despite the enactment of numerous laws, LGBT citizens’ continue to face discrimination on different occasions. In the workplace, LGBT citizens’ have been mistreated as employees, associates, or even as job applicants. Elsewhere, he or she faces the discriminatory animus as students, in housing, etc.

In many instances, the LGBT New Yorker has been subjected to exclusionary practices: taking out health care insurance, or merely trying to live a normal life. For being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender, some have been denied access to a restaurant or hotel, park or museum, and or even public transportation. Worse, the non-conformist New Yorker – not excluding those tagged as “queer” and HIV-Affected – are the targets of bias attacks and other forms of hate crime.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, in 2011, there were literally hundreds of LGBT persons in the state who have faced biased related violence. Over half of the survivors involved in the research said that the emotional distress was exacerbated by the indifference or hostility displayed by the police.

Since the culture has yet to evolve towards the unconditional inclusion of LGBT New Yorkers – it is time for the affected individuals’ to start taking action to protect their civil rights. If you are a LGBT citizen, or are affected because of your association with a LGBT citizen, and you are interested in determining your civil rights, call The Sanders Firm, P.C. for a free consultation. Your voice for justice.