June is celebrated around the world as “Pride Month”, so it seems appropriate to reflect on the many ways in which LGBT legal matters have advanced in recent years. We are taking this opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the progress that has been made and consider the further measures that are needed to create an accepting and equal culture for everyone.
Advancements in legal equality
Members of the worldwide LGBT community have tirelessly fought for inclusivity and equality in recent years, and as a result, their legal rights and protections have seen significant advancements that must be celebrated. However, there are still challenges that must be overcome to create a fully inclusive society.
Marriage equality advancements
In 2015, a groundbreaking ruling by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges  legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, acknowledging that the right to marry should be a fundamental right allowed to all US citizens.
Since then, other countries around the world, including Australia, Germany and Northern Ireland, have followed suit, now allowing same-sex couples the same rights and protection as their heterosexual counterparts.
Similarly, the Respect For Marriage Act  is essential for allowing same-sex couples the same financial benefits, estate planning, parental rights and legal protection that has been afforded to heterosexual couples for decades.
Legal protection from discrimination
Thirty-one US states have anti-discrimination laws that protect their citizens from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, with the vast majority also protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination based on their gender identity.
These anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination in areas such as employment, housing and public accommodations, and they are essential for creating an inclusive society in which all citizens are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Gender identity has been at the center of many legal battles, and significant progress has been made when it comes to the recognition and affirmation of gender identities in recent years. The 2021 Equality Act formally protects the rights of transgender people living in the country and simplifies the process through which they can change their gender marker and access healthcare.
Advances in adoption and parental rights
The federal marriage equality ruling in 2015 created new protections for same-sex couples, including the right to adopt children. Studies have found that this acceptance and protection has increased the adoption rate of previously hard-to-place children, including those from minority backgrounds, with LGBT families.
By placing the best interests of the child ahead of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the prospective parents, more children have been placed in safe and loving homes in recent years, safeguarding them and ensuring that their well-being needs will be met now and in the future.
Second parent adoption has also become more common, with parental rights often being granted to the non-biological parent of children who share a genetic connection with their same-sex partner. This has allowed legal familial connections to be created, protecting and safeguarding the children who are involved.
Challenges that are still facing the LGBT community
Although we are delighted to celebrate the progress that has been made, it is disappointing to note that 19 American states still do not have any anti-discrimination laws in place to protect their LGBT citizens. As of July 25, 2023 there are 492 pending anti-LGBTQ+ bills pending in state legislatures. The United States Supreme Court decision in 303 Creative created an opening for additional legislation and court cases to limit LGBTQ+ rights. Around the world, many countries continue to criminalize and restrict consensual same-sex relationships.
Overall, transgender acceptance still remains quite low around the world, with many individuals facing legal restrictions on their gender identity. This includes a lack of acceptance of transgender athletes, with up to 58 percent of Americans believing that athletes should compete on the teams that match the gender they were assigned at birth rather than the gender with which they identify .
Many advocacy groups and legal organizations are now working tirelessly to challenge outdated and discriminatory laws, to promote education and to advocate for global policy reforms.
The LGBT legal landscape has seen remarkable progress in recent years, but the fight for equality is far from over. It is essential that all opportunities for raising awareness of LGBT matters, promoting LGBT acceptance, updating legislation and supporting advocacy efforts are taken, not just in Pride Month but throughout the year.
By constantly striving for a more inclusive worldwide society, we can be part of the movement that creates a future wherein all individuals will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and one in which the law provides for all citizens.
At the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer, we can help you with all aspects of LGBT family law in Albuquerque, advising you on your rights and supporting you in reaching the best legal outcome for your family.