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Last Day of LGBT History Month!

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LGBT banquet Eng Dept.jpg

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) English Department
table at the LGBT Banquet.  Left to right: Wendy Oleson,
Emily Danforth, Sonam Singh, Dave Madden, Claire Harlan-Orsi, 
Ariana Vigil, and Joy Ritchie, Chair of the English Dept.

On the last day of LGBT month I am posting a celebratory nod for what was accomplished this month--namely the passing of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. I am also posting what still needs to be done. Since 1991, over 100,000 LGB hate crimes in the U.S. have been reported and documented and thousands more have gone unreported.  After 11 years trying to get this hate crime legislation passed, the Democrats attached it to a $680 billion defense bill they knew would pass and it did, 

What does this mean?  It means that the 1969 U.S. federal hate-crime law has been expanded to include sexual orientation, gender, disability.  The Justice Department can become involved if local/state legislators are unable/unwilling to investigate a hate crime based on sexual orientation.  It also requires the FBI to track statistics on transgender hate crimes (LGB victims are already tracked).  

I think of transgender individuals who were brutally murdered like Gwen Araujo & Larry Fobes King (both from California); Angie Zapata (Colorado);  Imani Williams & Emonie Kiera Spaulding (both from Wash. D.C.); Sanesha Stewart (New York). The list is long.  

There is much more work to be done especially in education.  LGBTQ individuals do not have the same rights as others.  Far from it.  They cannot share health benefits, they cannot be sure that if her/his partner falls ill and must be taken to the hospital that she/he will have access to her/his partner's medical care, even to her/his hospital room. If a partner dies, the other must pay an exhorbitant tax fee to buy back half or all of the house (because she/he is not recognized as a spouse and therefore not a lawful homeowner). Then there is the complexity of children and parental rights.  In Nebraska, LGBTQ individuals are not recognized in a court of law--as if we do not exist.  

When people say, "That's fine that you're gay. It's no business of mine. It's a private matter."  It is not a private matter.  Our lives are public because our lives are constantly scrutinized,  monitered, policed. 

The above picture shows a room full of people.  And it was full! The LGBTQ Banquet at UNL has grown from a small room in the union years ago to a huge banquet hall at The Cornhusker Hotel this year. May it continue!