The times, they are still changin’

The fight for LGBT equality is not over.

Connor Nikolic

Last election season, volunteers campaigned for months to prevent marriage from being written into the state Constitution as “between a man and a woman.”

With the amendment failing last year, and same-sex marriage coming into law earlier this year, LGBT advocates have won a long and hard fight.

That said, the struggle for equality between all, regardless of sexual orientation, rages on.

In this country, men who have sex with men can’t give blood in most donation centers. Several times a week, the American Red Cross badgers me to donate blood. This makes sense, as my O-negative blood can be donated to anyone, but only O-group donors can give blood people who are O-negative.

The Food and Drug Administration still holds onto the bizarre policy that men can’t give blood if they have had sex with another man even once since 1977. The once-HIV deterrent policy now serves as a reminder of old homophobia.

With the need for blood, the FDA cannot afford to shun this group. This summer a national gay blood drive got young men at 52 locations across the country, including Memorial Blood Centers in St. Paul, to donate blood to be submitted to the FDA in order to prove they were healthy to donate.

Beyond the homophobia of these discriminatory FDA blood policies, many LGBT issues still need to be addressed as we strive for equality in Minnesota.

Boynton Health Service’s 2007-2011 health survey reported 38 percent of gay and lesbian students have been diagnosed with depression in their lifetime. Nearly half of the bisexual students surveyed reported being diagnosed with depression. Only 22.8 percent of heterosexual students said they had been diagnosed with depression.

Not to mention the “T” of LGBT students. While L, G and B are noted for their efforts for marriage and other rights, the transgender population didn’t receive the same attention.

At the University of Minnesota, the Transgender Commission worked with the Program in Human Sexuality and the Center for Sexual Health to train the Boynton Health Services staff to better serve transgender patients. On the 2013 College Student Health Survey, students can identify themselves as male, female, transgender or other.

Still, transgender Americans are 28 percent more likely to be victims of physical violence than their gender “normative” counterparts, according to a 2012 report by the National Advocacy for Local LGBTQH Communities. They also documented 25 anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2012, the fourth highest yearly total recorded.

As for the Catholic Church, Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt is refusing to accept equality, even after same sex couples were able to wed this summer.

Nienstedt recently blamed the redefinition of marriage — as well as sodomy, abortion, pornography and contraception — for destabilizing society.

In the words of Macklemore’s “Same Love,” “A certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start.”

Whether you’re a fan of Macklemore’s music, he has a point. The legalization of same-sex marriage is a good place to start. However, marriage can’t be the only fruit of the local fight for equality. We need to keep up the fight until all University students, regardless of sexual orientation, can legally live their lives with the same rights as everyone else.