Jumping Beyond the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More than Marriage Equality

Originally published at the Center for American Progress website.

Today, the Center for American Progress launched the Fighting Injustice to Reach Equality, or FIRE, Initiative in conjunction with the release of the report, “Jumping Beyond the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More than Marriage Equality,” which discusses the wide range of issues facing this community and how they fit within the broader progressive agenda. The new program will work to eliminate the social, health, and economic disparities faced by gay and transgender people of color.

“Despite significant gains in securing basic rights for LGBT Americans over the past decade, the quality of life for black gay and transgender Americans has remained virtually unchanged,” noted Aisha Moodie-Mills, CAP Advisor on LGBT Policy and Racial Justice and former president of the D.C. Marriage Campaign. “People tend to focus on the fight for marriage equality without recognizing that there is even more systemic discrimination confronting this group that should outrage progressives across the nation and commit them to action. Marriage equality is vital to overall progress, but marriage alone is not a silver bullet to reduce the disparities black gay and transgender populations face.”

According to the data we currently have, families headed by black same-sex couples are more likely to raise their children in poverty, black lesbians are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, and black gay and transgender youth are more likely to end up homeless and living on the streets. These issues, along with the others laid out in this report, can and should be addressed through a policy agenda that seeks to understand and tackle the structural barriers—discriminatory systems, conditions, and institutions around socioeconomic status, race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity—that perpetuate negative economic, health, and other life outcomes among this population.

Through this report, we developed a high-level summary of what we know about the black gay and transgender population in terms of economic security, educational attainment, and health and wellness. Our recommendations for dealing with the issues include policies that Congress and federal agencies can adopt. Our key finding, though, is that there is a dearth of data available to fully understand the disparities faced by this population. This limits our ability to develop a credible, data-driven agenda that will help policymakers, advocates, and researchers craft effective solutions for eliminating them.

This report is just a starting point in identifying policy areas beyond the gay and transgender headline issues that would go a long way toward addressing the disparities black gay and transgender populations face. In the meantime it is important that the issues discussed in this report be actively inserted into mainstream conversations and policy debates on both gay and transgender equality and racial justice. Going forward, it is necessary to find policy solutions that will empower black gay and transgender people rather than fragment them. And we need to move beyond the dichotomy of race versus sexual orientation or race versus gender identity to do so.

For the full report, click here.