The NASW statement for LGBTQ people is an appropriate and necessary action for the minority group. There have been many instances of people in governmental positions who have not followed the laws that have been passed for gay people. One incident that received much attention occurred in June 2015 after same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States. County Clerk worker Kim Davis from Kentucky refused to hand out marriage licenses to gay people, due to her religious belief that same-sex marriage is wrong and an abomination to God. Davis was sent to prison for 5 days for her refusal to hand out licenses and for being in contempt of court. However, many people supported Davis’ stance on gay marriage, such as Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee .
In some states, there are no state protections for LGBTQ people in terms of employment, housing, and attending public places. For instance, in the state of Pennsylvania, same-sex couples can get married, but they can also get fired, evicted from housing, and be told to exit a restaurant just for being LGBTQ. While Senator Dianne Feinstein has tried to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed, there is a part of the act that states that religious institutions and businesses with a religious affiliation can choose to deny services to gay people. Since most people who discriminate against LGBTQ individuals are religious and conservative, this clause needs to be removed. This is one major reason social workers need to advocate for the LGBTQ population. Social workers need to help rewrite ENDA, so all LGBTQ people can feel safe at work, out in public, and in schools.
There are so many individuals who want to eradicate the rights that same-sex people have or thwart the passage of laws that can extend more rights to LGBTQ people. With the election of President Donald Trump, there are more anti-gay pieces of legislation that may be passed, such as the First Amendment Defense Act, which would give some businesses the right to refuse services to gay people without any repercussions from the government . There is also a threat that gay marriage could be repealed under Trump, which is why social workers must fight to make sure this does not happen and lobby for continued protection for LGBTQ people. Lack of equal protections for LGBTQ people often leads to more hate crimes against them.
According to a New York Times article, LGBTQ people are the most targeted group for hate crimes. The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in June 2016 resulted in 50 gay people being killed and 50 people injured . Shooter Omar Mateen possessed hatred for gay people and took out his rage on innocent individuals. It was also suspected that Mateen may have been gay himself and was experiencing internalized homophobia about his conflicted sexuality. This hatred is something that social workers can help to curb in their treatment of LGBTQ clients and in their communities, homes, and schools.
Today, bullying of LGBTQ people occurs in person and on social media websites after school hours are over. Cyberbullying has resulted in gay people resorting to suicide, due to the torture, isolation, and shame. Therefore, social workers need to keep advocating for stricter laws in terms of cyberbullying and to ensure that all social workers are treating LGBTQ people the same as other people. I think that social workers need to band together more and hold LGBTQ conferences and workshops for promoting the LGBTQ group. This can include coming out groups, gay parenting concerns, same-sex marriage groups, and gay couples trying to adopt. Social workers need to keep fighting for LGBTQ rights, so that hate crimes decrease and every gay person gets the same federal, local, and state protections guaranteed to heterosexual couples.
- O’Hara, M. E. (2016, December 21). First amendment defense act would be ‘devastating’ for LGBTQ Americans. Retrieved from Nbc News.com: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/first-amendment-defense-act-would-be-devastating-lgbtq-americans-n698416
- Park, H., & Mykhyalyshyn, I. (2016, June 16). L.G.B.T. people are more likely to be targets. Retrieved from The New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/16/us/hate-crimes-against-lgbt.html?_r=0
- Wong, C. M. (2016, November 4). Kim Davis has no plans to pay legal fees after marriage equality battle. Retrieved from The Huffington Post : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kim-davis-legal-fees_us_581a5a11e4b08f9841ad12b5