What's Next: 7 Issues Facing The LGBT Community After Marriage Equality

We're all still on a high from Friday's Supreme Court ruling bringing marriage equality to the whole country. But as the days wear on and reality sets in, it's clear we still have a long way to go to achieve full equality.

Related: Seven Things Gay Couples Can Do Now, Thanks To The Supreme Court

There's no law that can make that happen overnight—it will take slow, gradual change in people's hearts and minds—but here are six LGBT issues we and our and allies can take action on to bring that day closer.

We've included some organizations you can get involved with. If you have more suggestions, though, share in the comments!

1. Discrimination

In many states a gay couple can get married in the morning and evicted or fired in the afternoon. Only 22 states have made discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal—and that number drops to 19 if you add gender identity.

ENDA, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, has been introduced in almost Congress since 1994, but has been continually torpedoed. In 2013, it actually passed in the Senate but never cleared the Republican-controlled house.

Let's work to get it passed.

To get involved, reach out to Freedom to Work

2. LGBT Youth

[caption id="attachment_176764" align="alignnone" width="532"]leelah-alcorn-suicide-feat Leelah Alcorn[/caption]

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, and according to the Trevor Project, lesbian, bi and gay youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.

Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously considered taking their lives—with a quarter actually attempting suicide. The tragic death of Leelah Alcorn brought the issue to the mainstream, but more must be done.

Support at home is key—queer youth whose families reject them are eight times more like to attempt suicide than ones who are accepted. But schools must create policies to address bullying and create a supportive environment for LGBT youth. That means letting gay couples go to prom, lettings trans kids use the bathrooms they need to, and letting those who harass them be suspended.

And when LGBT youth are let down by their families and communities and forced into homelessness, we need adequate housing and services to protect them.

To get involved, reach out to the Trevor Project, GLSEN, or Ali Forney Center

3. Trans Equality

There's a unique moment of trans awareness in our culture, but it's not translating into political action. The government needs to address coverage of trans-related health care, and create a straightforward path to updating birth certificates and other identification.

But there's things we as a community need to do, as well.

Like make sure any discrimination laws we fight for includes gender identity as well as sexual orientation. And actively fight abhorrent "bathroom bills" and the myths and prejudices that paint trans people as predators.

Don't think it's your fight? Think where you'd be if trans people weren't fighting for you all along.

To get involved, reach out to the National Center for Transgender Equality

4. Violence

This one is tough: LGBT individuals experience violence at much higher rates than heterosexual, cisgender people: The FBI reports that bias attacks based on gender identity and sexual orientation account for more than 20% of all reported hate crimes. And because there's still stigma involved, those numbers are probably higher—especially for queer people of color.

In the first two months of 2015 alone, at least seven transgender women of color  were murdered in the United States. That's almost one a week .

Hate crime laws serve several purposes, including providing key statistics than can increase state and federal funding to address the unique concerns of LGBT communities.

And police departments around the country need training to prevent the re-victimzation of gay and trans people by indifferent or hostile authorities.

To get involved, reach out to the Anti-Violence Project

5. Adoption

 adoption babies kids family

The arrival of full marriage equality definitely adds ammunition to the fight for gay couples to adopt children as a family. But barriers still exist in many states—from laws banning second-parent adoption to private agencies that disqualify same-sex couples out of hand. It's discrimination at its most basic and it needs to stop.

Study after study show what every child desperately needs is not necessarily a mom and a dad, but a stable, loving home.

 To get involved, reach out to the Family Equality Council


Skimming other listicles of causes LGBT people should focus on, it was surprising to see how few included AIDS.

It's a blessing that HIV is no longer a death sentence, but the epidemic is far from over. We need to look long and hard at practical tools—like PrEP—and if they're sound, we need to make sure they're affordable for all. We also need to make sure AIDS services and medical groups don't lose vital funding.

And we need to educate our own community: According to the CDC, HIV diagnoses are down by one-third overall, but have more than doubled for young men who have sex with men.

To get involved, contact AIDS United

7. The Global LGBT Community

Even as we clinked glasses over marriage equality, we can't forget the people being harassed, jailed, even thrown from buildings, because of who they love or who they are.

We need to work with international LGBT communities to help our brothers and sisters oversees. And encourage our government to advocate for justice and inclusion abroad—whether its Russia, Uganda, India, Jamaica or elsewhere.

To get involved, reach out to All Out, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, or UN Free and Equal

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