11 Facts About Gay Rights

Young Gay Couple.
  1. In November of 2008, California voters approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, thereby overturning the state Supreme Court decision that gave gay couples the right to wed.
  2. The federal government accords 1,138 benefits and responsibilities based on marital status, not on civil union status. A few of those benefits are unpaid leave to care for an ill spouse, social security survivor benefits and spousal benefits, and the right not to testify against one’s spouse, among others.
  3. The District of Columbia and 47 states have anti-hate crime laws, however only 24 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation in their legislation.
  4. As of November 2012, 9 states have made same-sex marriage legal: Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Connecticut, Iowa, Washington, and New Hampshire, plus Washington D.C.
  5. In July 2009, the Senate approved the Matthew Shepard Act, which outlaws hate crimes based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. The Employment Nondiscrimination Act first accepted by congress in 2007 is the act that prohibits discrimination of sexual orientation in the workplace, specifically during hiring.
  7. In the U.S., 75 percent of students have no state laws to protect them from harassment and discrimination in school based on their sexual orientation. In public high schools, 97 percent of students report regularly hearing homophobic remarks from their peers.
  8. Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youth, between 20 and 40 percent identify as LGBT. In one study, 26 percent of gay teens who came out to their parents or guardians were told they must leave home.
  9. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from openly serving in the military was effective from 1993 to 2011 when it was banned. Transgender individuals are still discriminated from serving openly about their sex and orientation.
  10. 38 states have banned gay marriage through law, constitutional amendments, or both.
  11. 11 countries currently allow same-sex couples to marry including the United States (some states), the Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina.

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Sources: Pro Con, The Task Force, Lambda Legal