Beyond Marriage Equality: The Next Fight For LGBT Rights

03/14/2015 06:33 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

As the fight for marriage equality continues with the Supreme Court expected to finally decide whether the Constitution's equal protection clause grants same-sex couples the right to marry, other discriminatory bills are popping up all over the country that roll back on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections.

Justin Nelson, the co-founder and president of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, explained to HuffPost Live's Josh Zepps on Thursday that in some states where gay marriage is now legal, opponents are finding "additional ways of discriminating against same-sex couples and against LGBT people, and they have to be stopped in their tracks."

Nelson provided a recent example of such discrimination in Michigan, where there were claims that a 6-day-old baby was denied medical care because her parents were lesbians.

Rose Saxe, the senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT project, said there is no explicit protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in Michigan, while there are protections for race, religion and sex. She explained to HuffPost Live:

Whether it's going to a doctor or going to a business or trying to seek work or housing in Michigan and many other states across the country, there simply are no protections from discrimination [for LGBT people]. And at the federal level, of course, we don't yet have comprehensive federal protection, either, so there is no uniform national policy banning discrimination, and that makes LGBT people quite vulnerable in a range of circumstances across the country.

But it doesn't stop there. Tennessee Equality Project executive director Chris Saunders also joined the conversation and spoke of a bill that almost passed in his state in 2013 that would allow counseling social work and physiology students at Tennessee public universities "to opt out of serving clients during their practicum based on a sincerely held religious belief."

"At a time when people are most vulnerable and in need of help, they're getting turned away, and stigma is added onto whatever it is they're dealing with in a counseling, a social worker or a psychology situation," Saunders said.

Watch the clip above to learn about the equality fight beyond marriage, and click here to watch the full conversation on whether religious rights are the new LGBT discrimination.

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