Myrtle Beach gay columnist asks - do you know your rights?

For Weekly SurgeApril 7, 2014 

S.C. Equality ramps up its Know Your Rights campaign

S.C. Equality is stepping up its efforts to help members of the LGBTQ community say no to discrimination, intimidation and any of the other routine impediments we tend to view as a part of life in our state. We may live in a country where attitudes and laws are evolving but we also reside in a state whose legislators are unable to put their stamp of approval on a woolly mammoth fossil unless we stipulate that God created it. I suppose that’s another column altogether but I have to give a shout out to Southern legislative brilliance when I see it, just to keep it real.

Rights are important to everyone and most people don’t think about their rights until they are violated. I suppose that’s why the gay community is so vociferous on this matter; our rights are still in the inaugural stage. I personally make it a routine practice to light a candle and pray for the state of our state and its obstinate official position on LGBTQ rights. In case you’re unaware, we have the dreadful Amendment I defining traditional Southern marriage on the books since 2006 and this year, the state doubled down by denying legally-married same-sex couples equal protection under state tax law.

S.C. Equality has an ongoing mission of keeping the members of the gay community informed as well as protected. This year, the organization is stepping up that mission by launching the Know Your Rights campaign. With the initial launch in February, this is set to be a game-changing resource for families, couples and single people who want to know where to turn for advice on matters that those outside the gay community take for granted.

Through June, S.C. Equality will cover critical topics such as Relationship Recognition and Protection; Understanding Non-discrimination Policies in Employment, Housing, and Public Accommodations; Transgender Inclusion; Hate Crime Prevention; and creating Safe Schools for LGBT youth. Each topic will have its own section and will contain fact sheets, links to national resources, sample legal forms and recommended questions to ask an attorney or other professionals.

Sections I & II are active and available online at www.scequality.org/knowyourrights with extensive information and resources on how to protect your family and relationship and how to defend yourself from discrimination in matters of employment, housing, public accommodations and healthcare. This information is essential to your daily life. The best way to protect yourself against discrimination is to educate yourself and that is exactly what S.C. Equality is providing. For example, do you know if your employer is one of the corporations in the state with a written anti-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation? There’s a great listing on the Web site and you’re going to have to go there and check it out. If I told you the Top 8, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

Randy Moore, Project Leader for the Know Your Rights campaign, explained: "With so many marriage victories sweeping the country we decided we should release our 'Relationship Recognition and Protection' first. While South Carolina still does not legally recognize same-sex marriage within its borders, it's important to know that there are ways to legally safeguard same-sex relationships in our state." Do you know the answers to the five most important questions you should ask when making critical planning decisions for yourself, your spouse or partner and your family? I thought I knew and I also thought I had these issues covered, but I would only score myself at about 60 percent after reviewing the information provided on the Know Your Rights Web site.

Ryan Wilson is the Executive Director for S.C. Equality and he provides this assessment of this newest mission: “As both laws and attitudes continue to evolve around our state and country, it is important for LGBT people to know what resources are available to them in South Carolina." Wilson also stated, "We know that an important part of knowing where we are headed and what laws we need to change, requires understanding where we currently stand. This leads us to ask LGBT people in our state: Do you Know Your Rights?"

This is an exceptional resource for the LGBTQ community of our state. Life events have a way of occurring without prior announcement. Every person, in every relationship, everywhere should have the assurance of equal protection under the law. I think we are on the way to achieving that but as a native of this state, I can tell you that the changes have not been occurring quickly enough during my adult life.

S.C. Equality is offering us the opportunity to equip ourselves with the most effective device to achieve our goals and to defeat discrimination: knowledge. Once the people who are so unconcernedly adept at making the rules that impact the lives of others learn that those people are informed and ready to demand change, they are going to be much more likely to make rules that protect everyone. Take advantage of the excellent information already available and follow the upcoming releases as they become available online.

OUT & ABOUT

Friday, April 11 – Join Morgan Richards for the Fabulous Friday Happy Hour Matinee Show at 6:30 p.m. at Pulse Ultra Club. Pulse Ultra Club is located at 803 Main St. in Myrtle Beach. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/PulseUltraClub.

Saturday, April 12 – CLAWS (Coastal Leather Allegiance to Wisdom & Service) Happy Hour and Social will be at Pulse Ultra Club from 6-9 p.m. Additional information about this event and this group can be found at www.clawsllc.org.

Friday, April 18 – Takeover Florence, the Pee Dee LGBTQ Happy Hour Social event, will launch a new season with a get together at Dolce Vita Chocolate and Wine Tasting Room at 7 p.m. Dolce Vita is located at 152 S. Dargon St. in Florence. For additional information, check out the Takeover Florence Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TakeoverFlorence.

Saturday, April 19 – Prime Timers Myrtle Beach will host an April Social Activity at noon at Brookgreen Gardens. The event will be a picnic. Members and guests can bring their own non-alcoholic beverage and be ready to eat food. The group will meet at the picnic area (marked) which is on the right as you near the Welcome Center. Brookgreen Gardens is located at 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet. For more information about this event and Prime Timers of Myrtle Beach, visit www.primetimersww.com/primetimersmb.

Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Drew Levy-Neal an e-mail to Drew.Levy.Neal@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Drew_Levy_Neal.

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