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The debate to legalize Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights is widely spread in first world nations, with the United States topping the list of countries that are dealing with this issue. The last one decade can be considered as the LGBT success decade with most countries across the world such as the Netherlands and South Africa addressing the grievances of this minority group (Keuzenkamp and Kuyper 22).
The LGBT rights’ issue was probably an anti-social phenomenon in the past few years, but it has now metamorphosed to a legal reality in most developed countries. The reasons for the changed socio-political perspective on LGBT concerns overtime is a debatable controversy. The proponents of the LGBT rights are most likely to be straight and their motives remain unclear, and thus disputable. Perhaps human sexual orientation is predetermined genetically and it is a democratic right to exercise LGBT rights.
Most parts of the world are yet to legalize LGBT rights especially the Muslim world, but indeed the debate is heated and it may not take long before they legalize it. This paper will show that LGBT rights have taken root in the United States and other parts of the world by analyzing the socio-political motives behind the idea. The paper will focus on the socio-political and religious implications facing the world due to the legalization of the LGBT rights.
The evolution of the LGBT rights
Debates have erupted since the civilization of humanity concerning the existence of same-sex relationships. However, those who oppose the legalization of same-sex relationships argue that the act is a choice of a preferred lifestyle and only heterosexual relationships should be exercised legally.
However, if this assertion holds, the pertinent question is why same-sex relationships have survived since the enlightenment era and the beginning of civilization despite the backlash and punishments some resulting in death. Same sex relationships involve all cultures and they have been experienced since the civilization of humankind.
At the wake of the nineteenth century, homosexuality was well defined with a section of the community defending the act and the majority opposing it by viewing the act as ‘weird’ to be accepted within any society. Early in the 19th century, homosexuality was discrete and researchers have provided empirical evidence and knowledge on the concept.
Around the middle of the 19th century, homosexual activists emerged to address the issues of the LGBT community by trying to initiate policy reforms to address their place in society; however, this move was contemptuous in the eyes of the conservatives.
Among the scientific community, homosexuality has grown from being viewed as a psychiatric disorder to a genetically debatable aspect. The question whether sexual orientation is predetermined by nature or nurture has presently taken a common direction with research relating biological aspects to sexual orientation.
However, this realization did not give a green light to same-sex relationships, but at least it relieved the stigmatization facing the LGBT community. Some people will not agree to this idea unless it relates to their religious and political beliefs and motives. LGBT largely has been successful in most countries as the unpopular political wings seek easy following of the gay society by purporting to fight for its democracy.
The core agenda by many activists is to achieve equity, end discrimination, and have acceptability within society. In the past, the LGBT community has experienced hostility and disapproval to engage in public participation like reform formulation or even recognition of its relationships.
The lack of equality and outright discrimination is among the reasons why the LGBT community came out and advocated their democracy. Following a series of political actions garnering support for the LGBT rights in the United States, activists became more prominent within the 20th Century after which around the year 2000 and onwards, a number of nations legalized same-sex marriage.
This paper surveys current work on the evolution of same-sex relationships and the legalization of the LGBT rights. Research indicates that for a long time homosexuality has existed, but with little support and a lot of discrimination from society. Doctors and scientists made the first efforts to understand homosexuality traits amongst human beings. For instance, Sigmund Freud had a compromising perspective about homosexuality and he did not consider same-sex relationships as a fruit of mental illness or a felonious act.
In the United States today, the debate is over on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized with the current president, Barrack Obama, being the first sitting president to state his support for same-sex marriage. This move is indeed a step forward for the LGBT community in the United States as they have the much-needed political support as opposed to the past where they had to talk from the sidelines.
Early efforts to legalize homosexuality suffered conservative backlash with critics seeking to protect humanity from sexual harm and immorality. However, the proponents of LGBT looked genuine by seeking to know what harm exceeded the torture, discrimination, and inequality that the LGBT community experienced. Studies identify that sexual rights involve the right of any person to express his or her sexuality and this right should be inclusive of the human rights act.
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Sexual rights activists differ in their views and motives. Some activists have personal hidden aspirations in leadership and politics. Others are genuine ambassadors who feel that their needs are not addressed. In addition, contemporary studies have not addressed these discrepancies, but they overlook the entire idea since freedom has been achieved.
For instance, in the United States, legalizing LGBT is evidently a political survival tactic rather than a democratic move to benefit the LGBT society. Since the gay community is increasingly growing in terms of numbers, leaders in the United States and other nations take advantage to increase their popularity by advocating gay rights (Mucciaroni 130).
In many places in the world, same-sex relationships were less talked about until 1965 when civil rights movements openly came out to fight the discrimination and inequality facing the LGBT society. The first gay rights movement demonstration took to the streets of Washington and Philadelphia around 1965, which was pioneered by Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings. Later, 1969 marked a turning point for gay activism when the police raided a neighborhood gay bar.
Leaders of the Stonewall Inn Movement in New York organized a protest against the police. This event was considered as courageous and it unlocked minority feeling amongst the gay society. Political parties emerged to advocate gay and lesbian rights. In the 1970s, first gay and lesbian churches were formed and they received religious approval from some sections of the religious society (Morris 57).
In the 1980s, gay life was magnified and recognizable with its leaders and followers getting involved in social and political affairs in the United States. From the 1980s up to date, a number of various goals have been achieved favoring the LGBT community. For instance, in 2000, the Vermont law recognized civil groups advocating LGBT freedom from discrimination by the law. Massachusetts made the first step by conducting same-sex marriage in 2003.
This move relieved the LGBT the stress of being labeled as criminals by the society and law. Other countries like the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Canada, and Belgium have legalized LGBT rights although the religious society maintains divided opinion on the issue (Keuzenkamp and Kuyper 27).
Reactions by US governments
Focusing on the United States’ government back in 1964 during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, homosexuality was unacceptable and unlawful. For instance, Walter Jenkins was a close aide to the president and he was accused of homosexuality before being arrested for the same allegations.
During this era, anybody accused of homosexuality could not hold a public office. However, President Johnson argued that Jenkins had been framed. This assertion meant that political survival at this time did not involve advocacy for LGBT rights, since the group was a minority and it could not come out publicly to endorse any political party.
Political opponents of Johnson like Goldwater intentionally mentioned the scandal to win the support of the majority who were against same-sex relationships. Most groups such as the American Mental Health Foundation indicated that personal life had less to determine capabilities and dispensation of duties by any individual and the case of Jenkins was unfairly exaggerated as a security risk (Nelson 54). This argument shows that the LGBT had backing from some quarters.
The next government in 1971 was under President Richard Nixon, and similarly, his public stance on homosexuality was negative. Richard expressed his fears that homosexuality was becoming common in San Francisco and other regions, but he could do very little to control the situation. Richard was trying to play a neutral role on this situation by trying to secure both sides in a scheming way. Unfortunately, the San Francisco gay activists group formed a gay voters’ alliance and started reelection campaigns for Richard.
This move convinced the public that Richard had his place in the LGBT society and he was not reelected. The incoming president in 1976, Gerald Ford, declared that he was not in support of the LGBT society, and thus he did not recognize what they advocated. He even opposed homosexuals from working in public institutions.
Gerald later in 2001, as a former president, disagreed with conservative members in the Republican Party by claiming that LGBT rights were to be respected and he called for equity to all sexual orientations. Whatever created the change of perspective overtime were essentially political and personal motives rather than advocacy for equality (Swiebel 32).
Prior to elections in of 1977, Jimmy Carter in 1976 was against the discrimination of the LGBT society, but in the same year nearing campaigns, he denounced his support for the same-sex rights. This move was geared to gaining popularity from the anti-LGBT society of which he did and won the elections in 1977.
Jimmy led the withdrawal of the policy that discriminated the LGBT from employment. He publicly supported the LGBT from all kinds of discrimination, although he did not officially ban discrimination based on sexuality. He knew this move could cost him politically, and thus he was decisive to lure both sides by playing a neutral stand. During the 1980 campaigns, the situation changed and gay community came out to form a myriad political parties.
Ronald Reagan had previously expressed his support to the LGBT society by arguing that discrimination based on sexuality was inhumane, since sexual orientation was predetermined at birth. During the campaigns, he echoed the same, but after he was elected, he changed his opinion by claiming that gay movements were asking for alternative lifestyles, which could bring chaos to society.
At this time, the debate on legalizing LGBT rights was far fetched. Leaders knew that this topic was a fortress for political survival and if it were legalized, they would have nothing to anchor their campaign propaganda.
George H.W. Bush’s government endorsed a clause that supported gay rights alongside other issues, thus encouraging equality for all people regardless of their sexual orientation. This gesture was a political move, but his personal belief was that homosexuality was not normal.
This aspect cost him the 1992 elections with the LGBT rights alliance endorsing Bill Clinton, who won the elections. It was evident that the political fate for most presidents was largely determined by their stand on sexuality. Perceivably, Bill Clinton was neutral on the issue, as he publicly advocated gay rights and at the same time acted slowly in legalizing the same. This scheme was a move to buy time and win a reelection.
The move worked and Bill Clinton was reelected for a second term after which his stand was clear as he supported LGBT rights. A number of bans discriminating the LGBT rights were lifted. For instance, in June 2000, Bill announced that June was to be marked as gay and lesbian month to commemorate their success. Bill was the first individual to maintain his stand in pre and post-presidency.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, LGBT movements gained approval amongst many people. The debates were more public than ever, their popularity had risen, and representation in the public sector in the United States and beyond was growing fast. Bush was highly neutral and he did very little to advance on what Bill Clinton had started. He was not the person to lead the LGBT to liberation.
As a former president, he declined to declare his support to any side. During the 2008 elections, the LGBT society was popular and it commanded a good share of the total votes. Barrack Obama, as a senator, had endorsed same-sex nondiscrimination laws in Illinois. He had the support from LGBT community and he won the elections. Obama, as the president, had firm support for LGBT rights with his tenure marking the legalization of LGBT rights.
However, the legalization of LGBT rights has not terminated the political games, but it has just changed the direction. A debate to reverse legalization of LGBT rights might be the selling line for the future elections. The Obama administration called for full equity and lifting of bans discriminating the LGBT people.
Although many social democratic movements discouraged same-sex marriages, the majority of them today cherish the equity granted to the LGBT people. The representation of the LGBT people in economic, social, and political sectors has been impressive. The evolution of LGBT rights has been a very long journey and it could not have taken a single devoted person to make it a legal reality.
Many leaders agreed that discrimination based on sexuality was unfair, but they were conservative and sometimes they changed their opinions to favor their current political situations. However, it could have taken one selfless leader to guide the fight for non-discrimination of LGBT people and they could have been liberated some decades ago.
For instance, in the case of Martin Luther King and his struggle against racism, he believed in what he fought for, and thus he led peaceful protests calling for the end of racism and particularly black people discrimination. He was not manipulated by any political motive, he stood firm, and he managed masses and convinced the white majorities to support his fight. He died fighting for what he believed was right and within a short period, the battle to end discrimination was won.
He changed the United States to what it is today in terms of racism. Today, he is attributed for his sole effort against racism. Unfortunately, nobody can claim a significant role in the fight for LGBT rights, as it has been a series of changing and seasonal opinions influenced by self-gratification and other agendas (Mucciaroni 120).
Implications of LGBT rights legalization
The Legalization of LGBT rights has long-term implications within the United States and beyond. Even though LGBT rights are recognized in the United States, the efforts by this group to promote and achieve change are met by many challenges. There still exist fears amongst the LGBT community as some of its members avoid being discriminated by the society. LGBT families create a different lifestyle in society with the same sex partners granted rights to bring up children.
Children brought up in a same-sex marriage may be influenced or compelled to engage in same-sex relationships in spite of them having heterosexual traits. This aspect will create another scene of discrimination and abuse of personal rights. In the generations of LGBT people, sexual orientation will likely be determined by nurture. The debate might seem to be over, but other complicated debates are yet to come. The world might get to the point were two types of lifestyles, viz. the straight and the LGBT, will be aligned socially, economically, and politically.
Most African states are anti-LGBT rights with Uganda leading by example. This aspect has a global implication on how the anti-LGBT countries relate to those who legalize the LGBT rights. For instance, President Obama was vilified for meeting President Museveni of Uganda.
This trend can go further to alter trade and other engagements between these two nations. LGBT people are restricted to countries that have legalized LGBT rights, and thus their freedom to movement is limited. In the near future, the religious society might divide further with one side supporting homosexuality and the other heterosexuality (Swiebel 23).
Even though it took unparalleled efforts, LGBT rights finally became a legal reality in the United States and other parts of the world. The Obama administration has been successful in endorsing LGBT rights. Same-sex partners have the right to raise children and they are granted job leaves to look after their children. LGBT people can now participate in public events without fear of criminalization or discrimination.
Future studies should focus on determining the place of kids raised in LGBT societies due to the possibility of emerging of another group that may not know where to belong. These children may poses heterosexual or homosexual traits and pose a social challenge to their identity. The success attained in the Unites States and other nations by legalizing LGBT rights is not comprehensive, since such people cannot exercise the same rights outside some regions, thus depriving them the freedom to travel.
Keuzenkamp, Saskia, and Lisette Kuyper. Acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Individuals in the Netherlands 2013. The Hague, the Netherlands: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research, 2013. Print.
Morris, Bonnie. “Negotiating Lesbian Worlds: The Festival Communities.” Journal of Lesbian Studies 9.2 (2005): 55-62. Print.
Mucciaroni, Gary. Same Sex, Different Politics: Success and Failure in the Struggles over Gay Rights, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Print
Nelson, Jeffrey. “The Republican Rhetoric of Identification with Gay and Lesbian Voters in the 2000 Presidential Campaign.” Atlantic Journal of Communication 17.2 (2009): 53-71. Print.
Swiebel, Joke. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights: the search for an international strategy.” Contemporary Politics 15.1 (2009): 19-35. Print.