[This is part of a series on opportunities for ace activism. See the masterpost here.]
Right now, asexuality is mostly unrecognized in the legal world. In the US, only one state and only a handful of cities include explicit protection for ace people, and I’m not aware of the situation being any better elsewhere. There are countless laws and practices which unfairly affect ace and aro people.
So far, there has been little activism devoted to the area of legislation. In NYC, an ace lawyer helped author the explicitly ace-inclusive wording in that city’s Human Rights Law. There have been a handful of states where there have been symbolically meaningful, but legally meaningless proclamations where state governors have recognized Ace Week. And that’s about it. This is a huge area, with lots of opportunities for activists to make a difference.
One area that leaps to mind is anti-discrimination law. Federal Law does not explicitly cover sexual orientation at all. In states where there are anti-discrimination laws that do cover sexual orientation, most of them explicitly define sexual orientation in a way that excludes asexuality. (Only New York state explicitly includes it.) Asexuality is included in only a couple of city ordinances.
There is currently an effort underway to change the definition of sexual orientation in a proposed bill that will several federal anti-discrimination laws in the US. This is the first concerted effort of ace/aro political activism that I’m aware of.
But anti-discrimination law is just one piece of what needs to change. There are consummation laws that may require having sex for a marriage to be considered valid. Immigration interviews will ask extremely personal questions about bedroom arrangements. Asexual people are often targeted by conversion therapy. Tax law gives a discount to married people. Hate crime laws may not cover crimes against us. Inheritance law prefers spouses or blood relatives over “unofficial” life partners. Single people may be treated differently in health care situations. Many of these issues are not specifically “asexual” issues, but they will disproportionately impact asexual people. And this is just a subset of what can be worked on.
And legislation is just one way to change things. There are regulatory agencies or commissions who will set rules. There are court cases which will interpret laws and set precedent. Some of the most important civil rights victories have come through these avenues. Working with regulatory agencies would be a similar process to lobbying a congressional representative about a bill, but court cases would require plaintiffs or defendants, lawyers willing to take on the case, and likely a lot of money and a lot of time.
This is also an area that needs raw numbers of activists working on things. Changing a state law will require dedicated people working toward that goal in each state, so that’s at least 50 people if you want to make a difference everywhere. Changing a municipal code would require someone local to attend city council meetings, so now you’re talking about hundreds and thousands of people putting in the work.
These efforts would benefit greatly from the networking mentioned in a different post. If we coordinate our work with people who are already connected to the right people and who are already working on a similar area, then we have a greater chance of success. We need a network of ace politicians, ace lobbyists, and ace lawyers.
- The Inclusive Equality Act Coalition: Working to get the Equality Act to use more inclusive language for “sexual orientation”.