As humans, we are all entitled to indivisible rights free of discrimination. The face of discrimination often takes the shape of hatred and disdain for a person’s race, sex, age, economic status, religion or sexual orientation. Entire movements have been formed, laws enacted and countless lives have been lost in the fight for human equality across the board. One such fight, which is alive and well today, is for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender—LGBT—community. In an effort to gain the respect that the LGBT community rightfully deserves, the Human Rights Campaign—HRC—was formed in 1980. The HRC is the largest civil rights organization in America with many successful campaigns under its belt. Below are two such campaigns that prove what can happen when 1 million people are brought together to fight for, and change, what should belong to everyone—human rights.
When a life is taken away too soon at the hands of another, it forces everyone to open their eyes. In 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd was tortured and murdered in one of the most heinous hate crimes in recent history. 21-year-old Shepherd was brutally tortured, left for dead and later died because he was presumed to be homosexual. Because there were no legislations in place that addressed hate crimes, a bill was presented to Congress in 2007, which would expand on the hate crime laws already in place. Finally, after being rejected several times, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Barrack Obama on October 28, 2009—another victory for human rights.
Being a student in elementary or high school is already a difficult journey for most, and being considered “different” and bullied for it does not make that process any easier. In 2010, the HRC launched its Call It Out campaign, which specifically works towards eliminating the bullying of LGBT students. Bullying has been shown to have tremendous negative effects on students, and this can often lead to depression, feelings of unworthiness and suicide. Sadly, this type of bullying comes from teachers, religious leaders and parents, as well as the child’s peers. The HRC has been successful in “calling out” such adult tormenters in school systems around the nation, and they will not stop until there is zero tolerance for this type of discrimination.
The Human Rights Campaign organization is responsible for countless success stories in their journey towards human equality. The road is long and largely unknown, but one thing is certain, the HRC will not rest until the hatred and evil is dead and buried.