While progress is being made on equal rights for the LGBT community, there is still a long way to go, as a new anti-discrimination campaign, ‘Beyond I Do,’ demonstrates.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States, despite the widespread misperception they have basic protections.
The public service campaign from the Ad Council, in partnership with the Gill Foundation, promotes acceptance, empathy and understanding for the millions of LGBT Americans who can still be kicked out of their homes, fired from their jobs or denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Created by ad agency CP+B with research and strategy from Redscout, the ‘Beyond I Do’ campaign confronts the common misconception that LGBT people received full equality when federal law made it legal to marry in all 50 states.
The campaign highlights real Americans who have faced discrimination, and it also documents many stories of Americans who have faced discrimination across the country, along with facts about discrimination, at BeyondIDo.org. They speak for the 55% and growing number of LGBT people who have reported been discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to Glaad’s Accelerating Acceptance 2018 study. And while public opinion research shows 79% of non-LGBT Americans support equality for LGBT people, 80% still believe it’s illegal under federal law to fire, evict or refuse service to someone because they are LGBT. In reality, 31 states lack comprehensive protections and allow these acts of discrimination against LGBT Americans.
“Everyone should have the ability to live in safety, support their families, and go about their daily lives without the fear of being turned away because they’re gay or transgender,” said Lisa Sherman, Ad Council president and chief executive officer. “By sharing powerful and poignant stories, this campaign highlights the values we hold so dear as Americans and provides a real opportunity to grow awareness and empathy.”
Stories of discrimination include those of Krista and Jami of Michigan, who were married in 2012. A pediatrician refused to provide medical care for their six-day old newborn because of the couple’s sexual orientation. It was, and still is, legal in Michigan for a doctor to refuse service for a child based on the sexual orientation of the child’s parents.
Another story features Jimmie and Mindy of Ohio, who became one of the first LGBT couples to marry in the state. Jimmie was unexpectedly fired from her job as a teacher when her school’s principal and board members had “questions about her sexuality.” Until that point, Jimmie had received nothing but positive performance evaluations.
“The power of this campaign comes from leveraging the shocking fact that millions of Americans are being denied basic rights,” said Quinn Katherman, creative director at CP+B. “We realized that nothing could ever be as compelling as the true stories these couples have to tell.”
Added Redscout founder and chairman Jonah Disend: “We wanted to be clear and non-judgmental with the message that we are all just human beings and yet some of us are denied basic rights. Through real stories, the campaign is exposing the fact that in most states the right to marriage wasn’t a golden ticket to equal rights for LGBT Americans.”
Actor Nick Offerman also lends his voice to the campaign by recording radio spots that will be heard nationwide.