New LGBT Issues Enter Spotlight After Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
After last week's same-sex marriage ruling, gay activists face a big question - what's next? A campaign is underway to ask LGBT people across the country that question. NPR's Jeff Brady attended one of the campaign's forums in Allentown, Pa.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: About 40 people packed into a church meeting room Monday evening.
ADRIAN SHANKER: How many of you were really excited about the ruling on Friday?
BRADY: Adrian Shanker heads the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown. It's one of more than a hundred groups around the country sponsoring the Our Tomorrow campaign, which is designed to answer that what next question.
SHANKER: All of us who were thrilled on Friday about the marriage decision also know that our movement's about more than marriage and that we have a lot of other hopes and dreams for our community.
BRADY: The marriage debate created a big national spotlight. Now those with other concerns hope to nudge their issues onto center stage - among them, retired nurse David Moyer. He's 72 years old.
DAVID MOYER: I lost my husband last year to ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease.
BRADY: Moyer would like more attention paid to the needs of LGBT seniors.
MOYER: I'm a widow, so I don't have anybody to fall back on. And if I'm not able to take care of myself, who's going to take care of me?
BRADY: Moyer worries that as a gay man, he might not be able to find the care he'll need. In Pennsylvania, like most states, gay people can legally be discriminated against for accommodations, employment and housing. There's a campaign here to include LGBT people under the state's antidiscrimination law. And nationally, there are indications the largest activist groups may focus on passing a federal employment nondiscrimination act. But Metropolitan Community Church pastor Elizabeth Goudy says in rural areas, LGBT people still face basic safety concerns.
ELIZABETH GOUDY: In places like the Lehigh Valley or in central Pennsylvania, there's more questioning about, well, how out am I going to be? How open am I going to be? I think those questions just are not questions in larger urban areas.
BRADY: Other issues raised at forums like this include care for those infected with HIV, the rights of transgender people, homeless teens and helping LGBT immigrants. In some cases, people feel like these issues have been put on hold while the larger movement focused on same-sex marriage. That's according to Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal. He's executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.
IVAN ESPINOZA-MADRIGAL: When we're selling marriage, it's a very neat and nice picture. We're selling love.
BRADY: Espinoza says these other issues can be messier, and that creates tension between large organizations focused on marquee issues, like marriage, and grassroots groups with more specific concerns.
ESPINOZA-MADRIGAL: When we're talking about access to HIV medicines for undocumented LGBT immigrants in immigration facilities, it just doesn't have that type of diamond ring or white picket fence attached to it.
BRADY: Look at the groups sponsoring forums like the one in Allentown, and they're mostly smaller and regional organizations. The largest gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, is not listed there, but in a statement, the HRC says it fully supports the effort and will be very interested in what comes out of it. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia.