September 29, 2016

What can we learn from the LGBT community’s recent success?

By Jonathan Maher, Author

In the months since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize gay marriage in June this year, related stories continue to make headlines.

Many governments throughout the country, however, have taken issue with the court’s ruling, citing states’ rights and religious liberty. Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis gained a wealth of support for denying marriage licenses to gay couples, resulting in a visit from Pope Francis, though the Vatican denied significance of the meeting.

As with the milestone election of our first black president, which did not erase racism from the hearts of many in the country, the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage still has not erased the bias inhibiting equal protection under the law for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, explains Jonathan Bannon Maher, who at 29, ran as a candidate for the United States Senate in 2012.

“While in recent years there’s been a dramatic and widespread transition away from homophobia, the obstacle course for LGBT individuals has yet to be fully dismantled,” Maher said.

Maher, author of The Destiny of Humanity, a book that includes an essay on gay equality, and was endorsed by Kings, a Prime Minister, and a Second Lady (www.jonathanmaher.com), reviews a few reasons for optimism for those hungry for additional social progress.

• Shifting demographics. According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of people born in 1981 or later support marriage equality, while the number is only 45 percent for those born between 1946-64. “Simply waiting out demographic transitions will yield gains, and in a representative democracy, elected officials generally align with voters.”

• Personal enlightenment. “If there is anything history has shown, it is that we can progress,” Maher said. “Equality is the destiny of a free and just nation.”

In his first inaugural address to the nation, Abraham Lincoln emphasized “the better angels of our nature.” It is something that applies today as we witness progress among a range of people.  The 70 percent support among the younger generation is likely to grow.

Maher explains that people also need information to change, which is why he wrote an essay on gay equality, and sent it to every elected state and federal representative in America, immediately preceding the wave of marriage equality victories across America.  It can be heard being read on YouTube from the Senate floor of Maine just before marriage equality passed.

• Workplace gains. Workplace equality is an integral part of full equality.  “While advancement in the workplace often requires competence, the most important factor in advancement is personal relationships,” Maher said. “Authentic personal relationships are easier than ever to develop as legal and social bias dissipates.”  While only one of the fortune 500 CEOs is openly gay, Maher says that “If sexual orientation is an indicator of results, all CEOs should come out as gay, since it happens to be the CEO of the most profitable company in human history: Apple.” He expects that the number of CEOs to eventually be “proportionately representative” of the percent of the population that is gay.

• Increasing public acknowledgments of sexual orientation.  The number of people who indicated same sex attraction on Facebook, according to the company’s recently released internal data analysis, has steadily increased, with a spike after the Supreme Court ruling. “Presenting your authentic self to others is perhaps the most important thing that can be done on a daily basis to advance equality,” Maher said.  If you decide to come out at school, work or to your family, make sure you have a support network accessible, whether it is friends, family or formal support groups.

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