Gay rights have been in the global spotlight in recent weeks, and the next few days will only brighten the exposure.
Protests have sprung up in both the eastern and western world from Portugal to Turkey for nearly 20 days now, with activists echoing sentiments of equal rights – regardless of sexual orientation.
Similar demonstrations are expected to erupt in the U.S. as the Supreme Court deliberates on two same–sex marriage cases that could impact Michigan’s ban.
Locally, gay rights groups are hard to find, but organizations like OUTlook at Northern Michigan University are helping to clear up misconceptions about issues in the gay community.
“I don’t know if there’s a lack of support. I know there’s a lack of knowledge. Like a lot of people don’t know there’s over 1,100 rights that we don’t as gay people when we’re married like adopting or visiting our partner in the hospital or even survivor benefits when someone dies. All of that we don’t get simply because of who we are. People don’t realize that I can simply be fired tomorrow because my boss doesn’t like that I’m gay,” remarked Joshua Garnett, a leader in OUTlook, a GLBT activism group.
The two cases the Supreme Court is presiding over address those issues. The first case involves a California couple challenging their state’s same-sex marriage ban, believing it to be unconstitutional. It’s ruling will serve as a template for other ban states including Michigan.
The second involves a ruling on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. If overturned, same–sex couples will have the same federal benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.
All of these cases come on the heels of the unprecedented sentencing of four Kentucky residents to up to eight years in federal prison for the first documented hate crime based on sexual orientation.