Freedom For All Americans: What Our Name Really MeansBy Shane Stahl • July 2, 2018 • 12:54 pm
July is a time of celebration, a yearly recognition of our country’s autonomy following the issuing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 — a statement that the people of the United States of America were a people who deserved the freedom to make their own decisions, and were entitled to, as the famous document states, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
242 years later, our country has certainly evolved as time has moved forward. What began with a few thousand colonists has become a nation of more than 300 million people from all walks of life, including a vibrant LGBTQ community that makes up close to one tenth of the population, according to some studies.
In the last 50 years, the LGBTQ community has made strides at a pace many feel is unprecedented. Less than 50 years after the first major uprising against inequality in the community, the Stonewall Uprising, laws that previously criminalized relationships between people of the same sex have been struck down as unconstitutional, members of the community have been elected to office at many levels of government, and in 2015, the largest victory to date occurred when marriage for same-sex couples was guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court.
While these successes are impressive and have been met with an outpouring of love and relief, there is still an issue that continues to affect the majority of LGBTQ people nationwide — the lack of protections from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
So far, 19 states have addressed the issue, establishing comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people that prohibit them from being evicted, terminated, or denied access to a public place such as a hospital, hotel, or restaurant. However, 31 states have yet to act, creating a confusing patchwork of laws across the country for LGBTQ people to navigate.
Freedom For All Americans was founded to address this very issue and work toward a federal law ensuring that all people are free from discrimination and able to participate in public life freely, without being treated unfairly because of who they are or who they love. However, beyond this basic concept, what does “freedom for all Americans” means?
Freedom means more than just being free from discrimination. Freedom means being an LGBTQ person with the ability to build and raise a family, without worrying about outside forces trying to break it apart. Freedom means being an LGBTQ person of faith, with the ability to participate in fellowship and worship in welcoming and affirming faith communities. Freedom means being able to receive goods and services from businesses and not be turned away simply for being LGBTQ.
Freedom For All Americans has made the commitment to fight for the dignity of all LGBTQ people to be free from discrimination, but we also understand that freedom takes on many different forms. By continuing to focus on our main objective while also helping tell the stories of people with different experiences, affected at all levels, we hope to assist in humanizing these experiences and amplifying the voices of those who may be underrepresented. Through these stories, the issue of discrimination will emerge front and center for all Americans and bring attention to the importance of passing comprehensive nondiscrimination laws across the country.