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Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas

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Dignity, Justice, Equality: LGBTQ Latinos and Allies Building a Movement for Change

Posted: 07/02/2012 9:46 am

How's this for shattering stereotypes during National LGBT Pride Month: Latinos are among the leading advocates for LGBTQ equality and justice.

A recent report by the Pew Research Center revealed that a full 59% of Latinos believe homosexuality should be accepted by society, and another report showed that 54% of Latinos support marriage equality -- even higher than the national averages.

The facts about Latino views on gender and sexuality should not be startling news, but often outdated perceptions about Latino attitudes and family lives overshadow realities.

Still, we're beginning to see signs of change in Latin0-heavy states. Latinos cheered when courts struck down the Florida ban on adoption by LGBTQ folks and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's law denying health benefits to same-sex couples. And just a few weeks ago, Texas voters made history by electing the first openly lesbian state legislator, Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso).

As advocates for reproductive justice, it's not unusual for opponents of our mission to push divisive policies and practices intended to split our movements. During this year's renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a federal law intended to protect women from violent crimes, some groups were excluded from the law's protections -- including many immigrants and the LGBTQ community. Latinos and other progressive advocates stood together to demand that VAWA include everyone in need.

Now is the time for our movements to make even greater strides toward working together to protect LGBTQ health, rights and justice. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Latinas have been a part of movements for reproductive justice and sexual liberation for as long as these movements have existed. We see the two movements as inextricably linked. Fighting for social justice, dignity and autonomy are values that progressive movements embody, and the right to create the family one wishes to create -- if, how and when -- is foundational to our work and our lives. There are many opportunities for reproductive rights advocates, civil rights advocates and advocates for LGBTQ equality to work together to ensure access to quality health care and full recognition of our human rights.

Health care reform, federal non-discrimination protections and other policies could help break down barriers for LGBTQ Latinos and others with stigmatized identities. But this promise will only become reality if we have unity and true collaboration across movements. Recently the board of the NAACP endorsed same-sex marriage and strengthened some critical alliances between movements. Likewise, immigrant rights organizations in several states are partnering with gay rights groups to help combat overbearing immigration policies. The President's recent announcement that the administration will provide relief to DREAM-eligible students is a lifeline for thousands of LGBTQ undocumented youth who often faced dual discrimination as an undocumented immigrant and as a queer person. Both immigrant rights organizations and LGBTQ organizations cheered at this announcement. For example, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force issued an immediate statement applauding the President for "taking this monumental and inspiring step." More of this unity is needed to achieve dignity and human rights for all in our communities.

LGBTQ issues are reproductive justice issues. All of us can accomplish so much more when we recognize that no push for justice is an isolated movement. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health celebrates the achievements of our LGBTQ movements during this historic Pride Month. Reproductive justice and full civil and human rights for immigrants and people of color are not possible without LGBTQ liberation. ¡Adelante!

Read more about LGBTQ Latin0s and reproductive justice here.

 

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