ese are monumental times for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
community. We are seeing changes now that would have been unimaginable
only a few years ago. e U.S. Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage,
the elimination of prohibitions against LGBT people serving in the armed forces,
adramatic shift in the way that the United States governmental bureaucracy deals
with the issues of the LGBT communityall of these are changes that many of the
writers in this book could only have dreamed about as they coped with the stresses
of being part of a community under siege. e stresses of the AIDS epidemic
(where I lost 35 of my friends and acquaintances), the attacks upon our family
structure by many politicians in both major parties, and the desire to silence our
community have led in turn to a more resilient LGBT community, which in many
cases has been reected in the writings of those who have prepared chapters for this
book. We have perhaps been misled by the great successes of our eorts to legalize
marriage as a basic human right. e problem is that our country is still divided
into those states where most if not all rights are granted to LGBT people, and those
states where no rights have been granted and protected. I was born in Nebraska
and lived much of my early life in Idaho: in neither of those states do LGBT people
have anywhere near the rights that I have as a resident of Minnesota. Unless they
live in a few of the larger cities in those and well over a majority of the remaining
disempowered states, they will have few if any rights at all. us it is that I have
titled the book Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights: APublic Policy
Agenda for Uniting a Divided America. e idea of the “great divide” comes from
my experience of living in the mountain state of Idaho, where part of my family
still lives within a few miles of the Aryan Nations and neo-Nazi encampments.
And it comes from being born in the state of Nebraska, which has only a few urban
centers with protection for LGBT people. It has taken me some time to view LGBT
struggles as “civil rights,” but when the United Nations Universal Declaration of
Human Rights tells us that all people should be equal under the law, that all people
should have the right to found a family, that no one (including undocumented
people) should be subject to unnecessary detention, that everyone has the right to
serve their country, and that everyone has a right to a reasonable standard of living

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