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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Author aims for public-policy plan post-marriage equality
by Sarah Toce
2015-02-03

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Dr. Wallace Swan is the author and curator of the new tome Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights: A Public Policy Agenda for Uniting a Divided America.

The lengthy historical account features a list of 12 prominent specialists and writers.

Windy City Times: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights: A Public Policy Agenda for Uniting a Divided America is quite the undertaking at 451 pages. How long did it take you to put the book together in its entirety?

Wallace Swan: I just looked back into my files and it has taken about 2.5 years from the time that I began, because I made the commitment to do it at the American Society for Public Administration national conference at Las Vegas in March 2012.

WCT: In your opinion, why is now the time to present this work to the masses?

Wallace Swan: We are at turning point in the LGBT movement. We have put in a tremendous amount of effort directed at achieving marriage. This effort has been driven by the 646,000 couples in our community; a total of almost 1.3 million people. But there are 8.3 million LGBT people in this country, the best estimate developed by Gary Gates from the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A. That means that there are about 7 million LGBT single people, who are not even counted by the U.S. Census. The result of this is that $400 billion of U.S. government revenues are not aimed at meeting the needs of this single population. I asked Gary Gates why single people are not counted, and he replied, "Because they never asked."

WCT: Were there constant changes and edits with new laws regarding marriage equality in the United States?

Wallace Swan: Trust me, at least three times I read my manuscripts for the eight chapters I wrote, and the 17 chapters and appendices written by other authors. I asked for and got permission from the publisher to read the full page proofs for the book ( over 400 pages ) twice, which is unheard of at Taylor and Francis. Usually the editor gets to read the proofs once, and then they are released to the publisher's staff. But because of the court cases regarding marriage, I read them yet again to ensure consistency throughout the book, and signed off on them on July 30, 2014. Since then, we have seen more momentous marriage changes. But, we have a spreadsheet in the Appendix of the book which documents all of the ways that oppression has been visited on the LGBT community, and marriage is only one column in a spreadsheet that was two-feet across and six-feet long.

WCT: The book mentions that major institutions fund efforts to discriminate against LGBT people. Can you scratch the surface here for us?

Wallace Swan: There is a chapter in the book entitled "Organizations that Keep the Great Divide in Place." I originally titled the book "The Great Divide" to emphasize the states ( like Illinois and Minnesota ) that have all of the protections for LGBT people; and the 30 or more states that have no protections.

This chapter documents the work of the Republican Party, the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, and the Ex-Gay movement, among many others that have spent tens of millions of dollars to ensure that oppression is visited upon LGBT people. Then, we contrast their work with that of Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, National LGBTQ Task Force, Lambda Legal, and many other LGBT civil rights organizations. Nationally our LGBT organizations have spent an estimated $94,939,745 to obtain marriage rights; while their organizations have spent an estimated $66,640,309 to prevent marriage by LGBT people.

WCT: The issue of same-sex marriage has, some might say, commercialized the LGBT community. It's now the "popular" topic to get behind. What are some other topics that deserve the same, if not more, attention?

Wallace Swan: There are major differences between the states with all rights and the states that have no rights: ( 1 ) hate crimes and homicides are less well documented but also more prevalent in the states without rights; ( 2 ) senior programs are not as well developed in states with no rights; ( 3 ) health care programs do not meet the needs of LGBT people in states with no rights; but even in states with all of the rights, the health disparities between LGBT people and the remainder of the population are stunning.

[Also,] the issues of LGBT immigrants are incredibly difficult in all states, and transgender people suffer immensely; ( 5 ) programs for K-12 and higher education students are very different in the states with all of the rights when compared with those states that have no rights; ( 6 ) we do not even have counts of the numbers of LGBT incarcerated people; ( 7 ) the poverty issues of bisexual and transgender people are significant ones in all states, with "bisexual erasure" accounting for considerably higher levels of poverty in the bisexual community than in the gay and lesbian community, and extraordinarily high levels of poverty present in the transgender community—four times the number of people with incomes under $10,000 compared with the remainder of the population.

WCT: In your opinion, how has faith and religion played a role in progressing ( or not ) the U.S. marriage-equality movement?

Wallace Swan: In the chapter entitled "Organizations that Keep the Great Divide in Place," we discuss the way in which mainstream churches have increasingly worked to reach out to the LGBT community. In Minnesota, we found that many of the over 600 organizations that supported the right to marriage were religious organizations. And I know that in Illinois over 300 clergy signed a letter supporting the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Courageous LGBT people and their allies within these churches have helped to ensure that marriage is now an option in most of the states in the country.

WCT: What is next for the LGBT movement after marriage now that we have a majority of U.S. states with laws recognizing and legalizing them?

Wallace Swan: We cannot rest on simply achieving marriage rights for 1.3 million LGBT people to the exclusion of the other 7 million LGBT single people. What we have started is a Civil Rights movement for all LGBT people. Every LGBT person needs to be protected against homelessness: We all know that 20-40 percent of the homeless youth in our cities are LGBT youth.

Interested persons can obtain the book from the publisher by using the 50-percent promo code KWN22: www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781466567337 .


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