Marriage Is Great, but LGBT People of Color Need Job Security

Lack of legal protections for members of the LGBT community in two-thirds of the 50 states means that more people live in poverty because they don't have the same rights as other Americans, Imara Jones writes at Colorlines.

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Same-sex-marriage supporters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court on March 27, 2013. (Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

Lack of legal protections for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in two-thirds of the 50 states means that more people live in poverty because they don't have the same rights as other Americans, Imara Jones writes at Colorlines.

As the Supreme Court weighed arguments on same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John Roberts wondered aloud from the bench whether action on the issue by the court was necessary, because "politicians are falling all over themselves" to bring the legal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in line with those of everyone else. If only this were true. In up to 34 states it's still legal for employers to deny jobs to citizens simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The lack of legal protections in two-thirds of the states for members of the LGBT community means that more people live in poverty and have a harder time making it simply because their rights aren't on an equal footing with other Americans. This is even more the case for LGBT women and people of color, where employment discrimination fuels an even broader economic crisis.

But these hardships can be rolled away, and we need not wait for members of Congress to finish "falling all over themselves" to make it happen. As a report released earlier this week by a coalition of non-discrimination organizations lays out, President Obama can take unilateral action right now to help more LGBT Americans secure jobs, improve living standards and live out their dreams.

As Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said to me recently, "Hopefully 2013 will be the year that President Obama fulfills his written 2008 campaign promise and signs an employment non-discrimination executive order." A Freedom to Work online petition already has over a 185,00 signatures pressing the president to do just that.

Read Imara Jones' entire piece at Colorlines.

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