Revisiting the 14th Amendment

GetEQUAL launches a campaign for LGBT Americans

As we celebrate the 144th anniversary of the certification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, GetEQUAL launched a campaign called “Fight for the 14th.” The hope is that it will draw attention to the need for equal protection under the law for LGBT Americans.

“Most people aren’t aware that their LGBT friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors are not afforded equal protection under the law,” says Robin McGehee, executive director of GetEQUAL. “It’s completely legal in most states to fire someone simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That should raise the alarm for anyone who is LGBT themselves or considers themselves a friend of someone who’s LGBT. We launched this campaign because we want to get out of the habit of fighting for piecemeal equality – we want full equality with no caveats, as promised under the 14th Amendment.”

Without equal protection in states like Pennsylvania – where you can be fired for being gay – discrimination is empowered everywhere from City Hall to the job, schools and even among immigrants and those wishing to marry. That’s why GetEQUAL launched the “Fight for the 14th” campaign, which calls for change here:

– Public Accommodations (restaurants, hotels, theaters)

– Public Facilities (courthouses, jails, hospitals, parks)

– Federally-Funded Programs (adoption, police, schools, homeless shelters, health care)

– Employment (civilian and military government, private sector)

– Housing (rental, purchase, finance)

– Education (schools, bullying)

– Credit (credit cards, mortgage applications)

– Federal Marriage Equality (federally-recognized and 50-state marriage equality)

– Immigration Status, Disability, and Family Leave (LGBT protections in the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the provisions within the proposed Uniting American Families Act)

“For many LGBT Americans across the country, discrimination is a life or death situation,” says Felipe Matos, national field director for GetEQUAL. “Our community doesn’t have the luxury of waiting around for Congress to get its act together and decide that we should be fully protected under the law. We need to create the grassroots movement that will demand that change, then hold Members of Congress accountable for whether they respond to their constituents.”

The “Fight for the 14th” campaign kicked off with a video from Major Jiminez and Beau Chandler, the Dallas couple who staged a sit-in when they were denied a marriage license on July 5. The two men called on LGBT Americans and allies to sign a pledge for full equality that commits signers to working toward a legislative vehicle that would make LGBT Americans fully equal under the law.

The next step in the campaign is a series of actions in solidarity with Major and Beau’s court date in Dallas on August 2. While, typically, an arrest at a marriage counter yields a misdemeanor charge, a short time in jail, and a small fee, Major and Beau were charged with class-B misdemeanor criminal trespassing, which carries a maximum $2,000 fine each and/or up to 180 days in jail. Actions will take place in various locations across the country on August 2 and the days following in solidarity with Major and Beau, who are fighting the charges. Those actions will encompass the wide variety of demands from the “Fight for the 14th” campaign, including marriage equality, immigration equality, equal access to education, employment protections and more.

Everyone who signs the pledge will be contacted by GetEQUAL organizers who will get them involved in the “Fight for the 14th” campaign locally to take action on issues important to them and to their local community.