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    Ring in a Roaring 2020: Beyond ‘I Do’

    By Andrea Shorter–

    Here we are: 2020 A.D. Finally. As a kid from the 1970s, I honestly believed that we would be commuting and zooming through the air in jetpacks by now. Copious exposure to the miracles and wonders of future technologies as portrayed in gobs of black and white sci-fi flicks of the ‘50s, Lost in Space, and The Jetsons impressed upon my formative imagination that no doubt by now we’d be zipping 5,000-plus feet into the air at 200 miles per hour all over tarnation with the ease of a solar or banana peel powered hum-dinger of a jetpack. Where, oh where, is my totally-rad-shiny-metallic-hot-pink jetpack?

    Like so many things that have already proved painfully true in these wee hours of this new year, events we might have hoped for even just three years ago—virtually any president but this one, real marked progress to stave off very real and present dangers of  climate crises, the end of war or declaring war in the Middle East, gun control, passage of an Equality Act—seem ever so closely within our grasp, yet just far away enough to keep us grasping, testing our belief and hope against hope that the imaginable, and very possible “jetpack” will soon be delivered.

    There might not be a mass-market glut of jetpacks alongside the numerous other actual miracles and wonders of technology that inundate our post-Apple, post-Tesla world just yet, but it doesn’t mean the eventuality of the possibility is not out there. The capacities and abilities to realize what was once total fantasy exist. One presumes that for a variety of practical reasons, we jetpack dreamers will apparently just have to hold on a little while longer.

    It is now 2020, though, so concerning matters of law, fairness, equality, and social justice, one has every right to believe that by now LGBTQ full equality and protection from discrimination in any form, and in every state, would, in fact, be fact by now; an eventuality of reasonable possibilities achieved, settled, and perhaps taken for granted—by now.

    2019 came and went without the hoped-for passage and implementation of an Equality Act, a federal mandate to ensure the protections against employment, housing, healthcare access, and other abject discriminations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Instead, we have an administration that is hell-bent on erasures of any standing policies that promote inclusion and protections of LGBTQ Americans.

    Recently, the Ad Council and LGBT concerned and led Gil Foundation launched a national television ad campaign called Beyond I Do ( https://beyondido.org/ ). Perhaps you’ve seen the ad aired while glued to MSNBC, CNN, or network broadcasts. It features a mother sharing how she raised her son to be respectful, tolerant, and fair with others, but was disheartened to find out that her son could be fired as a teacher simply for being gay.

    I love this ad campaign, and urge folks to review it at Beyond I Do online and share it; make it viral. It’s admittedly better than some of the old, widely panned “No On Prop 8” campaign ads perhaps most recent in our collective memories of statewide broadcasts regarding LGBTQ civil rights. It’s appealing if for the singular reason that it clearly addresses the fact that too many people presume that because same sex marriage equality is the law of the land, LGBTQ people enjoy all civil and human rights that should protect them against discrimination.

    The featured mother’s genuinely expressed hurt and shock in the ad at the realization that LGBTQ rights are not fully intact imply the same misunderstanding by millions of Americans following civil marriage equality. As the tome goes, yes, we can marry whom we love on Sunday, and be fired (or not hired) on Monday simply for actually being, or, in some states, for being suspected of being LGBTQ.

    Outlining state by state laws regarding LGBTQ discrimination, Beyond I Do helps in a meaningful way to inform, educate, and help soften the ground on the urgent need to change our state and federal laws towards non-discrimination of LGBTQ people. Of course, California is among the 20 non-discriminatory states (and D.C.) that have laws in place that protect the rights of LGBT Americans by fully protecting against discrimination in housing, employment, and public places like stores or restaurants based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. While the 30 other states are fairly predictable, you might be surprised at the types of laws and legislation that either remain or are still being proposed to further oppress, suppress, or erase any notion of LGBTQ existence.

    It is 2020. Yes, we might have to wait a little while longer for the political practicalities of an Equality Act to be finally passed and implemented. I doubt that I’ll be zooming about by jetpack anytime soon. Maybe in 2022? Until then, I’ll live. Meanwhile, it’s unbearable and unconscionable to imagine that we have to wait much longer for full LGBTQ equality and protection against discrimination in any and all states. At least with the help of a national ad campaign such as Beyond I Do, it’s reasonable to expect that by the end of 2020, more Americans will know as much about the state by state status of LGBTQ rights as much as we do the state by state status of legalized cannabis.

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights and marriage equality. A Co-Founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

    Published on January 16, 2020