We are approaching the third anniversary of marriage equality. However, in 31 states, including Virginia, people are still allowed to discriminate against members of the LGBT community seeking housing, jobs and medical care. A large majority of Americans (80%) are unaware of this problem as they belief that marriage equality erased LGBTQ discrimination.
In an attempt to educate the aforementioned majority unaware of continued discrimination, the Ad Council launched ‘Beyond I Do”, a multi-year, integrated campaign that tells the stories of real LGBT couples affected by discriminatory state laws. The campaign will appear nationally on TV, radio, billboards and digital and social.
“The Ad Council’s mission is to take on the most pressing social issues facing our country, and certainly discrimination among LGBT individuals is a huge issue, and it’s a growing issue,” said Heidi Arthur, the Ad Council’s head of campaign development. “We need to raise awareness and really increase empathy and understanding of the challenges LGBT people face today.”
The video above describes the discrimination faced by a lesbian couple by a pediatrician that denied medical care to their daughter. John and James, a Virginia couple featured on the campaign’s website, faced a different type of discrimination when James was fired from his teaching and coaching job following their marriage. “We found stories that spoke to situations with people who could be your neighbors,” said Arthur.
The Ad Council began working on this campaign over a year ago in conjunction with The Gill Foundation, which has donated over $335 million to LGBT equality initiatives.
The group’s research was compelling as it showed that while a large majority (79%) of non-LGBT Americans support LGBT rights, they are unaware of the lack of protections at the state level. In addition, their research also revealed that 55% of LGBT Americans reported experiencing discrimination in the last year – an eleven percent increase over the previous year.
“People were surprised and shocked to find that [out],” said Arthur. “It’s new information that’s startling, and it’s across the board no matter where you live.”
“We’re speaking to the issue as it exists in this moment in time, knowing it’s been an issue for quite some time,” Arthur said. “It’s a different climate out there today, and this message is about education and increasing empathy and understanding by sharing real stories and real facts.”
This may come as a surprise to many, if you are an LGBTQ person in Virginia it is legal for you to be…
- Be fired or denied a promotion
- Can be evicted from their home or be denied housing
- Can be denied service at public establishments, medical treatment or kicked out of a restaurant/business.
Attempts to rectify these issues were nearly codified into law during the last General Assembly session in Richmond earlier this year. You may read more about BeyondIDo.org below.