Despite the social progress that we have made in terms of equal rights for all Americans, there are still common LGBT issues. Members of the LGBT community face prejudice and even hatred in their personal and professional lives. They are told time and again that their sexual orientation makes them disgusting and immoral, and most of them don't even have the same basic rights that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy. There's only one difference between LGBT people and “normal” straight people, thus, it should be a non-issue, but like any minority group LGBT people are left to fight for the right to be recognized as normal human beings largely on their own.
One of the biggest LGBT issues is the hostility and threat of violence that they often face. This is especially true for young gay people. It seems that young adults are more hostile towards the LGBT community than anyone else with their constant use of the word “gay” to describe anything they don't like and their use of words like “faggot” and “queer” as all-purpose insults. Being gay seems to be one of the worst things that a junior high or high school student can be, and the recent epidemic of gay teen suicides is a direct result of this behavior. Direct violence against young LGBT people has been another issue since the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Stricter laws against such hate crimes have been put into effect since then, but they won't change the hateful attitudes of those who would commit these violent acts against someone just for his or her sexual orientation.
Another issue that the LGBT community faces on a regular basis is the notion that their sexual orientation makes them inherently sinful. Religious leaders cite Biblical evidence to back up their frequent claims that homosexuality is “an abomination,” and that it is against the will of God. The Catholic Church states that LGBT people deserve respect just like anyone else, yet they are increasingly outspoken against the acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships in society. It's a mixed message, especially for a religion that is allegedly based around love and forgiveness. This has a major effect on LGBT people and LGBT friendly people in congregations all over the world. It must be difficult to be gay and have to sit in church surrounded by people who think that all of your “kind” is sinful and immoral, and it is the reason why so many young people are turning away from religion. It gets worse for members of religious institutions and other faith-based organizations who are gay, as they must hide who they really are lest they be disciplined. For example, Belmont University, a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, allegedly fired a lesbian women's soccer coach for stating that she wishes to start a family with her partner. Belmont University also made headlines earlier in the year for refusing to allow the organization of a gay student group on campus.
Possibly the biggest LGBT issue is the fight for same-sex marriage. Currently, the only states that recognize same-sex marriages are Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. California legalized same-sex marriage on May 15, 2008, but Proposition 8 was passed that November. This amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Although Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district judge, the decision has stayed pending appeal. This means that the vast majority of same-sex couples are not legally recognized, and that these couples do not have the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. Furthermore, the many opponents of same-sex marriage are supported by the Catholic Church, which has officially taken the stance against these unions. To say that LGBT people who wish to marry face a difficult uphill battle is an understatement to be sure. These are just some of the many issues that LGBT people face, but they are the most prominent. Things have gotten better, but we still have a long way to go.
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