By Lexi Light
Chair, AMSA Gender & Sexuality Committee
Last week’s national elections brought the re-election of President Barack Obama, along with keeping Democratic control of the Senate and Republican control of the House of Representatives.
With the re-election of President Obama, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will now have the opportunity to be carried out over the next 4 years. While the age of medical coverage on one’s parents plan until 26 is already in effect, we will soon be seeing many other aspects of the ACA put into action. This includes expanded coverage to women’s health care for which contraceptive counseling and contraception is only the beginning. The mandate also covers annual well woman visits, STD and HIV screening, prenatal care, breastfeeding support, mammograms, and intimate partner violence services. This is a huge victory for women, and one step closer to AMSA’s goal of universal healthcare coverage for all people in the United States.
Additionally, Maine, Maryland, and Washington State all passed “marriage equality” amendments and Minnesota voted down the bill that would have constitutionally defined marriage as between a man and a woman. In a 2006 article, “I Do, but I Can’t” the authors address that lack of access to marriage stratifies the LGBT population on many fronts including cultural, political, and economical. The ever growing list of States now broadening the definition of marriage is an excellent start. While we commend these states, it is important to note that even with state recognition of marriage, the rights do not extent to national issues including military benefits, immigration for an international partner, and federal taxes.
We also recognize that this is only one step in the march to full equality. According to the Human Rights Campaign, only 21 states actually outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 16 states outlaw discrimination based on gender identity. There is a lot of work to be done at the state and national level to increase anti-decimation legislation & enforcement, and end bullying for LGBT youth. President Obama has done a lot for the LGBT community over his last term including the repeal of DADT, signing the Matthew Shepard hate crimes act, and directing the HHS to guarantee hospital visitation for LGBT families. We are optimistic that he in collaboration with the new congress and the Supreme court will do even more over the next 4.
There is still a long way to go for full LGBT equality to be achieved nationally.