Eliminating Housing & Employment Discrimination Next Frontier in LGBT Rights

Author: Greenspoon Marder Law
Published: Friday 3rd July 2015
Summary: It is not illegal in most places in America to deny employment or housing to LGBT members.

The United States Supreme Court's endorsement of same-sex marriage is a huge victory for the gay rights movement but it is hardly the end of the battle for equality.

With only 21 states banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, it is not illegal in most places in America to deny employment or housing to LGBT members. Consequently, it is crucial for advocates to push for federal and state legislation placing "sexual orientation and gender identity" in the same protected status as race, sex, religion, disability and national origin.

"The ability to make a living is crucial in achieving true equality," said Myrna Maysonet, an attorney with Greenspoon Marder Law's Employment practice. "Even if you are a great employee, employers in 29 states can fire you simply because of your sexual orientation and there is very little recourse under the law."

Equality in the workplace and in housing matters for the LGBT community varies widely from state to state, county to county and city to city. The red and blue divide that permeates the nation's political environment also impacts this issue. As a result, those who live in the two coasts and the Northeast enjoy protections that other LGBT members lack elsewhere.

"In places where being gay is seen as a sin or an abomination, issues of inequality are not being openly discussed or are being ignored by political leaders," Maysonet said. "This has to change and it will only happen when we move the conversation from the abstract to the personal. Discrimination hurts and wrongfully punishes real people, entire families and communities."

Currently, there is an extensive push to bring uniformity across the nation by banning sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Many private employers have voluntarily implemented these bans as a part of their anti-discrimination policies and procedures, a practice that is good for business and good for the bottom line. The EEOC is also pursuing discrimination claims against some employers. However, it is clear that current patchwork of laws is ineffective.

"Even with a marriage equality win, we cannot expect everything to automatically come to pass," said Mark Rabinowitz, a family law attorney with Greenspoon Marder Law in Fort Lauderdale. "This will be a fight that will be ultimately won from the grass roots up but is not over by any means."

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