In 2018, we saw incredible advancements in ensuring LGBT individuals have the right to equality. The United Methodist Church started allowing LGBT clergy and same-sex marriages in their churches, transgender identity was removed as a mental disorder from the ICD, and Colorado elected the first openly gay governor.
We made incredible progress – but more still needs to be done. For example, recently the transgender community has been excluded from one of the most foundational American rights: the right to serve in the Armed Forces. Discriminatory policies like this can be rectified if we join LGBT voices and ally voices together to demand equality.
At Equality Vodka, we're deeply involved with LGBT organizations that are championing the right to equality. We like to keep tabs on all the wins throughout the year so we can celebrate our progress as a society.
Here are the laws, influencers, and companies to watch as we see the right to equality become more widely accepted around the U.S.
Kicking Off 2019 Right
We're only a month into 2019 and already we've seen some great progress! At the turn of the new year, both New York and New Hampshire shattered a decades-old system of abuse and intolerance by banning conversion therapy for use with minors. Thirteen other states have also banned conversion therapy. The hope is this trend will sweep the nation as a universal law in just a few short years.
New York City has also taken a step toward freedom of gender expression. As of January 2019, the city is allowing legal gender changes without the requirement of medical or psychological criteria. The law was signed into effect as supporters celebrated by waving signs that read, "Your identity. Your dignity. Your New York City."
To keep up with all the legislative changes affecting LGBT individuals in 2019 and beyond, visit the Legislative Tracker created by Freedom For All Americans.
Leaders Fighting for Equality
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They can be individuals, non-profit organizations, or corporations. They can be men, women, children, teens – anyone who inspires others to take up a noble cause.
As we all join together for the sake of making the right to equality universal, we'd like to give a shout out to these incredible leaders:
- The YouTube sensation and social media influencer Jessie Paege came out as bisexual in June 2018. Since, she has made great strides to empower other LGBT individuals by advocating for LGBT rights. She encourages everyone to get involved in politics to make a difference.
- John Kim, the talented athlete and swim team captain at the Virginia Military Institute, recently came out as gay. Now he's inspiring others – particularly in the traditionally masculine world of sports – to embrace who they are so they no longer have to feel like hiding.
- Actress, rapper, and singer Janelle Monáe announced in late 2018 that she identifies as a "queer black woman in America." Her interview with Rolling Stone has already inspired thousands of Americans. We can surely expect to see more wonderful advocacy coming from Monáe in 2019.
The more our corporate world adopts an attitude of equality, the more this powerful message will spread throughout our media and culture. Here are a few companies leading the way.
- DirecTV has been gradually gaining momentum over the years as a strong pro-LGBT company. The media mogul is taking deliberate measures to include LGBT-friendly advertising and programing. The company's leaders and executives have also served on panels such as during the GLAAD Media Awards in Advertising event.
- Netflix has recently taken a public stance against LGBT intolerance. The streaming+production company that has become a household name around the country says that it will no longer film Netflix original shows in North Carolina due the the state's anti-LGBT attitude. Netflix's stance in support of LGBT rights will cost the company $60 million to move it's operation. Now that's commitment!
- The extremely well-known company Tylenol is redefining how families are depicted in advertising. Their #HowWeFamily campaign frequently features same-sex couples. The company has committed to using representations of families and couples of all types in their advertising.
- Marriott has also been leading the way as a hospitality company that welcomes people of all varieties. The company says their #LoveTravels campaign stands for inclusion, equality, peace, and human rights. The campaign provides $500,000 in grants to organizations fighting to defend those who have been discriminated against.
These are just a few examples of the incredible influencers and companies taking a stand in favor of the right to equality. In fact, the number of companies that already support LGBT rights is overwhelming and includes big names such as Wells Fargo, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Nike, Apple, Honey Maid, Hallmark, AT&T, Target, The Walt Disney Company, and Ben & Jerry's, to name just a few.
The Right to Equality Around the World
LGBT rights are flourishing in other countries, as well. As of January 2019, new laws have taken effect in Austria, Sweden, and Germany that are giving more rights to the individual and reducing interference from government agencies.
For example, as of 2019, same-sex marriage is officially legal in Austria. In Sweden, a new law went into effect at the start of the year that bans hate speech based on transgender identity or expression. In Germany, a new diversity law has gone into effect allowing individuals to choose a third gender option on official documents.
The world is beginning to speak up and demand equal rights. These new laws and trends are just the beginning.
We need everyone – LGBT individuals and LGBT allies – to join their voices to the ongoing conversation so our wishes become demands that are heard in the highest courts with clarity and passion.
What's the next LGBT legislation you would like to see put in place to make the right to equality a reality for all? Tell us about it in the comments below! Then share this post on Facebook to get the conversation going.
Together, the right to equality for all is possible.