What is a second-class citizen? By definition, a second class citizen is "is a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there." No one wants to feel this way. No one wants to feel that they are "less than" others in society. Being unique is what makes us each special, so why in so many cases does being different than what society refers to as "the norm" give us less rights? Is that really fair?
With the LGBT Community fighting for marriage equality, how can they not feel like second class citizens? When you are told that you don't have the right to legally marry, that you cannot share health insurance with your partner, that you don't receive the same tax credits as married couples, that one partner has a baby, the other one is not automatically granted the status to be a legal guardian...the list goes on and on. That is the very definition of a second-class citizen.
In Ohio, LGBT individuals face discrimination and legal challenges never experienced by non-LGBT individuals. In 2004, Ohio State Issue 1 banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state of Ohio. If a homosexual couple wants to adopt a child- wait a minute, no, not allowed. You are considered a second-class citizen. "Single homosexual individuals are permitted to adopt in Ohio...Despite no explicit prohibition, courts have not allowed same-sex couples to do so. Second-parent adoptions are only available to someone recognized by the state as the spouse of the first parent."
When it comes to the workplace, 29 Ohio cities and counties have anti-discrimination ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation- but is that what's really happening? Many LGBT individuals in Ohio state that this is simply not being upheld. One Cincinnati individual shared, "I have to stay hidden. I can't tell my employer or let my co-workers know I am gay. If I do, I fear I will lose my job. They may not state on the paperwork that they fire someone based on sexual orientation-- because they want to look like they play by the rules. But they will cite some other reason. We all know what game they're playing though."
So how do we begin to change perceptions? How do we begin to change the laws? With 9 Ohio cities now offering domestic partnership registries, we are moving forward- but there is still a long way to go. What about marriage equality? What about adoption rights? What about being treated as first class citizens? Are we truly moving forward and making progress in Ohio and in the nation- or are we standing still as a society?