L'Taken Student Speaks Up For LGBTQ Equality

March 2, 2017Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

At the February 10-12, 2017 L'Taken Social Justice Seminar, Noah Hùng Spanding-Schecter, from Congregation Beth Tikvah in Columbus, OH., learned about social justice. Here is an excerpt of Noah's speech on LGBTQ equality, which he gave in Congressman Pat Tiberi's (OH-12) office:

As a Reform Jew, I was taught to respect the fundamental rights of others. We are governed by the idea that all people are created B’Tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. I, along with the Reform Jewish movement, interpret this to mean that all humans are equal. In fact, the Union for Reform Judaism explicitly stated that, “Homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under the law” and that “discriminations because of race, color, or creed are a violation of the will of God and of the principle of equal liberty to all so basic to the American philosophy”. They have also shown their support for the transgender and gender non-conforming community by passing legislation that explicitly affirms the longstanding belief in the importance of full acceptance, inclusion, and equality of transgender and gender non-conforming people.

I speak to you not only as an American and a Jew, but also as a human. I was adopted from Viet Nam by my two, gay dads. Not to mention, my brother and uncles are also gay. I understand LGBTQ discrimination and have witnessed firsthand the effect it can have on people. In terms of employment, housing, and public accommodations, it can devastate people who have done nothing more than be themselves. I cannot fathom the idea that my brother, my uncles, or my fathers could be denied services at a store, a job, or a home. I know from personal experience that LGBTQ rights have progressed. I was recently able to see my fathers get married and see me get adopted by both dads after the landmark ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges. This was a large step towards LGBTQ equality for our country, and I appreciate this ruling every day, yet while marriage is legal for the LGBTQ community, basic needs still need to be satisfied. One should not be denied a job or a home just because of who they are, and while this should be a problem resolved through legislation, this is not only a government issue but a human issue. The American government’s role is to protect the rights of all Americans, and to maintain justice throughout the country for all Americans. Without explicit protections for the LGBTQ community, the government’s job is not completed in its fullest and greatest potential. My family’s rights are not completely protected. My rights are not completely protected.

The  Equality Act (H.R.3185/S.1858 in the 114th Congress) will address the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community by amending existing civil rights laws to include protections based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity for employment, housing, federal funding, jury selection, credit, public accommodations and education. By building upon decades of civil rights legislation that have tangibly reduced discrimination, the Equality Act will provide an avenue for recourse for victims of discrimination. Take action and urge your Members of Congress to support the Equality Act today!

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