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With Marriage Equality Won, LGBTQ Activism Continues for Bias Protections & Overlooked Trans Issues

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After the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on marriage equality, many LGBTQ leaders are now redirecting their attention to obtaining federal, state and local legal protections in areas of employment, housing and commerce. Nationwide, anti-discrimination laws for gay people are inconsistent and unequal with only 22 states barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Human Rights Campaign is now advocating for a broad federal shield that would protect people of all sexual orientations and gender identities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Meanwhile, grassroots LGBTQ activists are calling for large, national organizations to also focus their attention and resources on other pressing issues, including lesbian and gay refugees and asylum seekers, the plight of homeless youth ostracized by their families, and the disproportionately high levels of violence experienced by transgender people. We are joined by Jennicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans activist from Mexico who recently made national headlines when she interrupted President Obama to say “No more deportations!” at a White House event. Gutiérrez is a founding member of Familia: TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants often excluded in the immigration debate. We are also joined by Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry and author of “Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—and Won.”

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Video squareStoryJun 29, 2015Love Wins: After Decades of Struggle, Marriage Equality Now the Law of the Land
Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As the Supreme Court delivered an historic ruling on marriage equality Friday, we turn to the future of the LGBTQ movement. Many gay rights leaders are now redirecting their attention to obtaining federal, state and local legal protections in areas of employment, housing and commerce. Nationwide, anti-discrimination laws for gay people are inconsistent and unequal with only 22 states barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Human Rights Campaign is now advocating for a broad federal shield that would protect people of all sexual orientations and gender identities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Meanwhile, grassroots LGBTQ activists are calling for large, national organizations to also focus their attention and resources on other pressing issues, including lesbian and gay refugees and asylum seekers, the plight of homeless youth ostracized by their families, and the disproportionately high levels of violence experienced by transgender people. During the first two months of this year, transgender women of color were murdered at a rate of almost one per week in the United States. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender women of color are among the groups most victimized by hate violence in the country.

For more, we go to Los Angeles, California, where we’re joined by Jennicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans activist from Mexico. Last week, she made national headlines when she interrupted President Obama at the White House to say, “No more deportation!” Gutiérrez was a founding member of Familia: TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants often excluded in the immigration debate. And we’re here in New York with Marc Solomon still, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Jennicet, your reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Good morning, and thank you for having me again. I do believe the U.S. Supreme Court made the right decision, and this is a huge victory for the LGBT community and for justice in this country. However, you know, many people in the LGBTQ, especially people of color, marriage is not a priority. So we’re facing many challenges.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about those challenges and what you think needs to be the focus of LGBTQ activism today?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Yes. Well, personally, as an undocumented trans woman of color, and, you know, my community is facing a lot of incarceration, police brutality and deportation. So I do believe that we are at a point where we have to—you know, the mainstream LGBT community can come and get behind the transgender community and include all the voices and listen to the struggles that we are facing. And hopefully we can move in the right direction and make progress for all of us.

AMY GOODMAN: Marc Solomon, you’re the national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. What happens with this organization now?

MARC SOLOMON: So, our organization, as we have always promised, will shut down in the next few months. But the fight for equality for LGBT people must continue. And there are some crucial items on the agenda that—I believe we can harness all of the momentum and all of the conversations and all of the goodwill that’s come out of this marriage ruling to make steady and actually rapid progress.

AMY GOODMAN: Your book is called Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—and Won. Do you have any strategy suggestions for all that you have won, for all you’ve learned in this victory, for how people organize effectively?

MARC SOLOMON: Absolutely. I think—I mean, I have a number of them. And of course people can look at the book if they want the full picture. But I think a couple are having a powerful vision of what you want to accomplish, which I think motivated so many people in our community and so many of our allies to get motivated, and then it’s, you know, really looking strategically at the map and where we can put wins on the board and build momentum every single day towards that, towards that end.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennicet Gutiérrez, if you could talk specifically about the experience of immigrants, you, yourself, an undocumented trans activist from Mexico? I mean, it’s quite astounding. I want to go back to that moment. You know, we had you on when you interrupted President Obama Wednesday as he spoke to a gathering celebrating LGBT Pride Month at the White House. You got in. This is what happened.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to thank all of you—advocates, organizers, friends, families—for being here today. And over the years, we’ve gathered to celebrate Pride Month, and I’ve told you that I’m so hopeful about what we can accomplish. I’ve told you that the civil rights of LGBT Americans—

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: President Obama—

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah, hold on a second.

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Release all LGBTQ detention centers! President Obama, stop the torture and abuse of trans women in detention centers! President Obama, I am a trans woman. I’m tired of the abuse. I’m tired of [inaudible]—

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Listen, you’re in my house. … As a general rule, I am just fine with a few hecklers, but not when I’m up in the house.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama and Jennicet Gutiérrez last Wednesday at the White House. If you had the microphone for longer, Jennicet, if you could talk about the plight of undocumented trans immigrants—a six-month Fusion investigation found some 75 transgender detainees are detained by immigration authorities every day?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Yes, that is correct. And I have been involved, especially in the last two months, with this community, in particular, that has been affected. And I have spoken to specifically two transgender women from Guatemala who came to the U.S. in hope of a better treatment and a better future. And they turned themselves in to the immigration officials, and only to be put into these detention centers. So they shared their horrific stories, the abuse, the torture, that they’re being—going through in these facilities. And, you know, the abuse that they’re facing is like sexual abuse. They’re being harassed. When they need to take showers, the officials say, like, “Turn around. Let me see your breasts.” And they want to touch them. And other people detained, they’re sexually abusing them. So, to me, that was very heartbreaking to hear. And I connected with her—you know, with that, because I am an undocumented woman, and I am potentially at risk to be put in one of these detention centers. So it is very important for the mainstream LGBT community to listen to these struggles and to unite and do something that will benefit us all and move us in the right direction.

AMY GOODMAN: And the issue of housing?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Yes, housing is a huge issue that we face, as well. And, you know, I have known people, transgender people, who I’ve been coming in contact to through the last year or so, and they have employment, and they transition during the work, and they—once they transition, they get fired, because they don’t support it, and then they have to be demoted with the risk of losing housing. So that is another very critical issue that we have to come together and face this and get behind our community and, you know, do see something productive and positive in the struggles that we’re facing.

AMY GOODMAN: U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has a new piece in The Guardian. It’s called “Same-sex marriage isn’t equality for all LGBT people. Our movement can’t end,” she wrote. In it, Chelsea Manning writes, “I worry that, with full marriage equality, much of the queer community will be left wondering how else to engage with a society that still wants to define who we are—and who in our community will be left to push for full equality for all transgender and queer people, now that this one fight has been won. I fear that our precious movements for social justice and all the remarkable advancements we have made are now vulnerable to being taken over by monied people and institutions, and that those of us for whom same-sex marriage rights brings no equality will be slowly erased from our movement and our history.” She wrote this in prison. Chelsea Manning, of course, is the whistleblower who was an Iraq intelligence officer, released documents to WikiLeaks revealing U.S. killings in Iraq, and has been sentenced to decades in prison. As you hear Chelsea’s words, Marc Solomon, your response?

MARC SOLOMON: I am much more positive or much more optimistic than that. I think that with this tremendous win nationwide for equality and dignity for so many people, I believe that Americans now see a much more multidimensional aspect of who our entire community is, and I think that they are—I mean, they are fully behind protections on employment, on housing, on public accommodations. And I think, you know, we also now have a huge amount of power, that we’ve harnessed through the marriage conversation, with all of these companies that are behind us, you know, and I think we just need to take that power and move it and drive it towards nondiscrimination protections. And I think we can—we can do it. I think we can do it with a Republican Congress. I think we can do it in red states. We just need to move, you know, forward.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, here in New York City, the Stonewall Inn, the site of the uprising that helped launch the modern LGBT movement, has been granted landmark status by a city commission. The Stonewall uprising began the morning of June 28th, 1969, when members of the gay community decided to fight back against yet another New York City police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar. Stacy Lentz, co-owner of the Stonewall Inn, praised its new landmark status.

STACY LENTZ: On that particular night, they had enough. They were fed up. And it was the first time that people from LBGT backgrounds actually stood up and kind of said, “We’re queer, we’re here, get used to it,” shut the police outside and started throwing pennies and that thing. They call it a riot, but it was pretty peaceful, for the most part, you know, a few cars overturned and those kind of things and throwing things. But for the most part, though, people gathered for three days after that. And the next year, there was actually the first LBGT pride parade.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennicet Gutiérrez, it was trans activists the led that uprising, is that right? Sylvia Rivera.

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Yes, that is correct. And that is something that we must not forget. You know, transgender women of color were at the frontlines of this current LGBTQ movement, and we need to give them credit. And we also need to be listening to the concerns that these people were bringing up to the community and that were still trying to be ignored. So now I think we are at a critical moment where our mainstream LGBTQ community can reach out to organizations who have been advocating for transgender people, and to start providing funds and to start opening up resources so that more members of our community do see the benefit and are treated with respect and dignity.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Cathy Marino-Thomas of Marriage Equality USA.

CATHY MARINO-THOMAS: No, no, no. You know, we’re not fully equal. We have still some of our brothers and sisters that suffer. Our transgender brothers and sisters have virtually no legal protection. We have over 5,000 LGBT homeless youth in Manhattan alone every night. We have to fix those problems. We have to be able to move freely around the world as equal and supported citizens. But this is a significant step. For today, we enjoy the win.

AMY GOODMAN: Cathy Marino-Thomas of Marriage Equality USA. As we wrap up, final comments, Jennicet?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: I just want to say, you know, my mainstream community, it was heartbreaking, and it really—I felt betrayed when they turned their back on me. So I believe now they are in a position to do the right thing and to reach out to us and to include us in the conversation and listen to our struggles.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennicet Gutiérrez, I want to thank you for being back with us, undocumented trans activist from Mexico, founding member of Familia: TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants often excluded in the immigration debate. And again, thank you to Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, the author of Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—and Won. Marc just wrote an article for the New York Daily News headlined “A field guide to making history,” and we’ll link to it at democracynow.org.

When we come back, speaking of making history, Bree Newsome scales the flagpole in Columbia, South Carolina, on the Capitol grounds and takes down the Confederate battle flag. Stay with us.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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“This Flag Comes Down Today”: Bree Newsome Scales SC Capitol Flagpole, Removing Confederate Flag

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