WHY IT MAT­TERS: LGBT

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW YORK: Same-sex mar­riage is now the law of the land, but there are other bat­tle­grounds related to civil rights and nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions for les­bians, gays, bi­sex­u­als and trans­gen­der peo­ple. Two po­lar­iz­ing ques­tions: What sort of ac­cess should trans­gen­der peo­ple have to pub­lic bath­rooms? And are the ad­vances for LGBT rights in­fring­ing on the re­li­gious free­dom of some Amer­i­cans?

Where they stand

Hil­lary Clin­ton is a staunch sup­porter of LGBT rights; she has en­dorsed the Equal­ity Act, a pro­posed fed­eral law that would pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive pro­tec­tions against dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity.

Don­ald Trump says he would be a bet­ter pres­i­dent for gays than Clin­ton, yet ma­jor LGBT-rights groups strongly op­pose him. Among the rea­sons: He has balked at en­dors­ing same-sex mar­riage, his evan­gel­i­cal ad­vi­sory board has in­cluded prom­i­nent op­po­nents of ad­vances in LGBT rights and run­ning mate Mike Pence, In­di­ana’s gov­er­nor, last year signed a law that crit­ics said would al­low busi­nesses to deny ser­vice to gay peo­ple for re­li­gious rea­sons.

Why it mat­ters

Who­ever wins the pres­i­dency can only do so much to in­flu­ence na­tional LGBTrights poli­cies, un­less, per­haps, if the win­ner’s party sweeps con­trol of Congress. The pro­posed Equal­ity Act is un­likely to ad­vance through a Repub­li­can-con­trolled House, even if Clin­ton wins. And the na­tion­wide le­gal­ity of same-sex mar­riage is un­likely to be threat­ened, though some con­ser­va­tives cling to hopes that a Supreme Court re­con­fig­ured by Trump ap­pointees might re­verse the 2015 rul­ing ex­tend­ing that right to all 50 states.

On some fronts, how­ever, the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial race could have a ma­jor im­pact - for ex­am­ple, in how ag­gres­sively fed­eral agen­cies work to ex­pand LGBT rights. Clin­ton would prob­a­bly main­tain or in­ten­sify the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to bol­ster trans­gen­der rights. This could mean pres­sure on school dis­tricts to let trans­gen­der stu­dents use school bath­rooms based on their gen­der iden­tity.

Some trans­gen­der stu­dents have be­come ac­tivists on this is­sue, say­ing they face ha­rass­ment and dis­com­fort if forced to use bath­rooms on the ba­sis of the sex on their birth cer­tifi­cate. There’s also the mat­ter of ju­di­cial ap­point­ments. Thus far, fed­eral judges have gen­er­ally been un­sym­pa­thetic to ar­gu­ments that cer­tain types of anti-LGBT dis­crim­i­na­tion are per­mis­si­ble if in ac­cor­dance with a per­son’s re­li­gious be­liefs. Trump has told con­ser­va­tives he’d place a high pri­or­ity on re­li­gious lib­erty and would seek to pro­tect Chris­tians from hav­ing to vi­o­late their be­liefs. Among the types of cases in ques­tion: Whether wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers or bak­ers who op­pose same-sex mar­riage should be pe­nal­ized for re­fus­ing to pro­vide ser­vices for a same-sex wed­ding.

At the state level, the elec­tion could have im­por­tant reper­cus­sions for LGBT is­sues. In North Carolina, for ex­am­ple, the Demo­cratic can­di­date for gov­er­nor, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Roy Cooper, op­poses a law cur­tail­ing LGBT rights that was signed by his elec­tion op­po­nent, in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Gov Pat McCrory. That law - which in­cludes re­stric­tions on trans­gen­der peo­ple’s bath­room ac­cess - has been the tar­get of an ex­pan­sive protest campaign.

In In­di­ana, Pence’s de­ci­sion to forgo a sec­ond term to run for vice pres­i­dent boosts Demo­cratic hopes of win­ning the race for gov­er­nor. The Demo­cratic can­di­date, for­mer House Speaker John Gregg, has vowed to push for full LGBT civil rights if elected; at present In­di­ana is one of 28 states with no statewide nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions for gays and les­bians. In Ken­tucky, there’s an in­trigu­ing US Se­nate race match­ing in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Rand Paul, who failed in his pres­i­den­tial bid, against Demo­crat Jim Gray, the openly gay mayor of Lex­ing­ton. — AP

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