Congress just passed a historic LGBT rights bill. And it's only the beginning.

It's a historic day: The house just passed a bill that will provide nationwide anti-discrimination protection for the LGBT+ community and extend protection to women and people of color.

The bill, known as H.R. 5, is an extension of 1964's Civil Rights Act. It's meant to ensure that those who identify as LGBT+ can't be discriminated against at work, school, when seeking housing, and when participating in federally funded programs (among other things).


While many believe that the LGBT+ community already has all of these protections (especially after gay marriage was made legal), the reality is that gay, lesbian, transgender, and non-binary individuals can still be legally discriminated against in many parts of The United States. In fact, they can even be fired for their sexual orientation and gender identity in 26 states.  

Because these states don't have laws that protect these members of our society, individuals that are treated unfairly at school, let go from their jobs, or denied housing because they are LGBT+ have no legal recourse when it comes to fighting discrimination there. This bill attempts to rectify that, making it clear that all Americans are first-class citizens regardless of how they identify or their sexual preference. (sidebar: Isn't it strange that we have to keep reminding ourselves we're in 2019 because the laws that either govern us or are being passed are so goddamn archaic?)

Of course, this is just one hurdle we've crossed on the long, arduous road to equality. While the bill has passed 236-173 in the house, it still needs to pass the senate in order to become law and there will be some major opposition there. OUT reports that voters have generally been supportive of moves towards equality, but that doesn't mean that republican senators will be.

One republican congressman actually quoted Coretta Scott King when denouncing the bill on the house floor.

"Coretta Scott King wisely said, 'Freedom is never really won. We earn it and win it in every new generation,'" said Ross Spano of Florida. "H.R. 5 is bad for freedom. You see, it would immediately expose churches, religious schools and universities and faith-based organizations to legal liability for simply following their earnest beliefs."

First of all: Gross to invoke King's name like that.

Second of all: Rest assured that this is only the beginning. The way that it will always be only the beginning until all of us are seen as equal in the eyes of the law. There will be many more people who will try to tear this bill down, but there will also be countless others who will fight for it with everything they've got.

And that's why we're not ending this on a dark note. There's lots to be hopeful about when it comes to equal rights — in America and around the world. Case in point, just recently in Taiwan, the government legalized same-sex unions. In The US, we'll continue fighting for equality.

As presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren said this morning: "LGBTQ Americans deserve to be treated equally, no matter where they live – or who they love."

President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

Keep Reading Show less
via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

Keep Reading Show less