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Citizens in the United States have not, for many years, accepted various sexual orientations and lifestyles, but the attitudes of the majority of them have changed recently. These changes led to sexual tolerance and, in general, to the corresponding legal and civil rights. Some of these changes include greater support for transgender people, changed military roles for women and legalized marriages between same sex. This paper shows recent changes in sexual tolerance law, attitude and policy.
Changing women roles in the military
Before the roles of women in the armed forces changed, the law allowed their exclusion from many positions due to the belief that giving them a chance to serve in certain roles would weaken and degrade the effectiveness of the combat. This was until the government began reviewing whether to maintain this exclusion or not. The law has also barred women from assignments on surface combatants in the U.S. Navy. Government officials argued that barring women from serving in submarine roles was not related to the risks involved in the combat, but rather linked to habitability and privacy matters in cramped spaces as well as cost concerns to retrofit submarines to accommodate both male and female combatants. In 2000, the Pentagon started making efforts, based on the recommendations made by the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), to allow women to serve in the submarines. Nonetheless, senior officials in the Navy and Congress opposed these recommendations citing cost worries for berthing modifications of the system, privacy concerns as well as the likelihood of sexual misdemeanors affecting unit effectiveness and cohesion. Consequently, language was held in “the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Financial Year 2001 (P.L. 106-398),” which apparently thwarted the efforts of the Pentagon. This language did not allow the Navy to assign women to submarines from 10th May 2000.
However, in 2010, the Navy permitted women to be assigned to nuclear submarines. It started assigning female troops to submarines in 2011 and 2015, it began accepting applications for assigning enlisted female soldiers to submarines. Military departments’ secretaries were then required to review regulations, policies, and laws, which could restrict female members of the military from serving in various positions. They were supposed to ascertain whether amendments of such laws, regulations, and policies were necessary to make that the female soldiers were given equitable chances to compete and do well in the military. Indeed, changing these laws has led to a rise in the number of roles that are open to women serving in the military over the past few years. Women have been in the frontline serving in various roles in the recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been serving as pilots, medics, engineers, and bomb disposal operators. The current percentage of women in the military is 10 percent, and the government looks forward to increasing this percentage to 15 percent by 2020. Nearly all aspects of the military are open to women (Brooke-Holland, 2016).
Legalizing same-sex marriages
In 2004, marriage between partners of the same sex was legal in one state only; however, eleven years later, marriage equity had spread to fifty states through a combination of ballot initiatives, court decisions, and laws enacted through legislative arms of the states. The rapid spread of marriage impartiality had been in the making for years – going back to the first state to accept marriage equality, Massachusetts. When the Supreme Court of this state made same-sex marriages legal, the public was forced to consider the likelihood of unions between lesbian and gay couples. That led to a change in public opinion, which resulted in massive support for same-sex marriages.
In 1993, the Supreme Court of Hawaii put forward that barring same-sex partners from getting married was a violation of the Constitution of the state. That made states legislate prohibitions on same-sex marriages via amendments to the constitution as well as other legislative means. Such bans became the hub of debates in courts as organizations that supported same-sex marriages such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, and Lambda Legal termed them unconstitutional. They argued that giving same-sex couples marriage rights would provide fair treatment under the law and unravel a host of benefits that would help same-sex couples as well as the nation at large. Those opposed to same-sex marriages argued that banning gay and lesbian marriages strengthens traditional families since it promotes procreation and encourages parents to love one another, stay together, and raise their children. The debate shifted to whether it was imperative for the traditional marriage institution to change or not. Nonetheless, the interpretation of marriage among Americans changed gradually, and more people started welcoming the idea of same-sex marriages. In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States supported the idea of changing the marriage institution in the nations and legalized this kind of marriage (Koren, 2016).
Increasing awareness of transgender issues
Transgender individuals have faced struggles in both private and public institutions for a long time. These struggles have been discussed mostly in the gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, and bisexual community though not by the larger public. Recent studies on transgender issues show that most Americans strongly support the rights of transgender individuals. Indeed, the change in the way the public currently views transgender issues shows that public and movements fighting for civil rights are now on the same side. The majority of the American citizens are changing their attitude on transgender persons for the better. Their support for legislation of transgender rights at the national level is growing. As awareness of transgender matters continues increasing, even the traditionally conservative communities are changing their opinion regarding this issue. In 2011, Dancing with the Stars, a favorite TV show gave millions of viewers reasons to appreciate transgender people. Without a doubt, increased awareness of the existence, as well as struggles of transgender individuals, has resulted in wider support for them countrywide. Regrettably, some of the publicity, which transgender individuals have been given by the media has been the outcome of terrible events. Improved public awareness of hatred criminalities has resulted in general uneasiness with the idea that some people would kill others due to their gender identity, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. Even those who have not been comfortable with transgender individuals do not feel that the atrocities committed against the latter are justifiable. According to the National Catholic, American Catholics strongly support transgender rights. While many readers of magazines have questioned this report, the addition of the topic of transgender issues in a Catholic publication is perceived as a big step forward for transgender community (McGill, 2016).
In conclusion, the issue of sexual tolerance has come a long way in America. Changes in several laws have led to the acceptance of issues, which were strongly opposed by the majority of the population for a long time. Currently, most Americans support such issues as changing women roles in the military, transgender issues, and same-sex marriages.
Brooke-Holland, L. (2016). Women in combat. House of Commons Library.
Koren, M. (2016, June 26). Gay Marriage in the United States, One Year Later. Retrieved from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/06/gay-marriage-scotus/488816/
McGill, A. (2016, August 25). Americans Are Embracing Transgender Rights. Retrieved from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/americans-are-embracing-transgender-rights/497444/
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