When President Lyndon B. John- son declared a war on poverty half a century ago, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans had not yet formed a collective identity. Since then LGBT communities and allies have gained public policy wins in health care, marriage equal- ity, family recognition, and discrimination in employment and public accommodations among other issues. The momentum of social change for LGBT communities may lead some to believe that there is a rising tide lifting all boats that fly the rainbow flag, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
In its report issued last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, the White House Council of Economic Advisors pointed out that poverty has declined by one-third since 1967. However, those within and outside of LGBT communities, are just beginning to recognize the economic disparities faced by LGBT people.
This past March, the US House of Representa- tives Equality Caucus hosted The Economics of Equality, a briefing where representatives from the LGBTQ Poverty Collective talked about the growing poverty in LGBT communities especially among women and people of color. The collective was formed in 2014 as research about poverty in the community confirmed what those on the front lines of the movement already suspected. But we have this perception problem, many people assume that, given what feels like rapid social change, all people who identify as LGBT have political power and are affluent.
The focus on marriage equality has helped perpetuate this assumption. For example, the wedding industry has been quick to take advantage of that fact and will continue to especially since same sex couples can now marry in all 50 states, thanks to the historic June 26th Supreme Court ruling. Last year, nerdwallet.com estimated the economic boon from legalization of same sex marriage throughout the nation to be worth $2.5 billion.
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