Next LGBT Battle Must Be Legislation on Employment, Housing, Education

Chad Griffin is the president of Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT civil rights organization.

What is your biggest concern, going forward?

Some folks might think the job is done. Clearly it isn’t. That’s why HRC has been looking at those battles beyond marriage. Our job is to take this momentum to catapult ourselves into our next battles. We have a crazy-quilt of laws in this country when it comes to protections for LGBT people. The next legislative focus, among HRC and our allies on the Hill, will be a comprehensive approach. Instead of looking just at employment, it would be a nondiscrimination bill that looks at employment, housing, education, everything. We need to build business support, and build bipartisan support. Particularly in this next election, we’re going to need folks in office who are willing to make it a priority, and champion it.

How’s the battle going?

Democrats are near unified in their support. Corporate America is unified in support. Republicans are increasingly evolving to support. We still have to win a lot more Republicans, both in terms of Congress and in statehouses. This will be the biggest battle we’ve ever faced. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s a battle that we will ultimately win.

Do you also expect battles at the state level?

Absolutely. While we engage in a federal campaign, the efforts will continue both at local and state levels. Our opponents, the increasingly angry anti-LGBT activists, are going to keep coming with hateful pieces of state legislation. We’ve seen them increasingly frustrated and desperate. As they have lost battle after battle, many opponents are pushing forward bills in cities and states.

They also have turned their energy and resources to other countries. In every single country with a backward slide — places like Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, parts of the Caribbean — in every one of those cases, you can draw a line to an anti-LGBT activist that is American, or an American organization and/or American funding. It’s our job to expose that. Global equality is starting to get the attention it deserves from the U.S. government. And the efforts beyond marriage will be significant in the U.S., and will be ever-increasing as they relate to global equality.

We are at a turning point in history. It’s time to stand up and fight for full and complete federal equality under the law. That’s our job as activists. Our job is to not be patient. It’s to fight like hell until every single LGBT person is fully protected and is an equal citizen. The time is here.

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