There are so many battles facing the LGBTQ community at this moment in history, among them employment discrimination, access to health care, and immigration. Lambda Legal, the country's largest LGBTQ legal organization, is at the forefront of all of them in the courts.
These battles were on the minds of the special guests at Lambda Legal's West Coast Liberty Awards. Held Thursday at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, the event honored Starz and the creator of Vida, Tanya Saracho, whose series -- like the nonprofit itself -- brings the stories and struggles of historically marginalized people to the forefront.
Saracho -- as well as Vida stars Ser Anzoategui, Carlos Miranda, Chelsea Rendon, and Tonatiuh; host Cameron Esposito; writer Mara Wilson; singer Brian Justin Crum; and more -- weighed in a piece of legislative magical thinking. If they could create any law to help vulnerable people, what would it be, and why? See their responses below, and help Lambda Legal make these legal advances happen by getting involved or donating at LambdaLegal.org.
1. The defeat of anti-abortion laws
"This idea of our bodies belonging to us and not to the government would be great to make happen," said San Cha, a Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter.
2. A comprehensive nondiscrimination law that includes universal health care
"A comprehensive nondiscrimination law that covered all people in this country -- it would cover health care, employment, housing, public accommodation, and the right to health care for everyone," said Richard Burns, the interim CEO of Lambda Legal.
"I have to agree. I think the recent rules coming out from [the Department of] Health and Human Services and the proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act are going to be devastating for our communities," added Anne Krook, chair of Lambda Legal's board of directors. "So I would like to see health addressed first."
3. Campaign finance reform
"If I could create a law, I would create an amendment that would guarantee public-funded elections and separate money and politics, because I think it's one of the most insidious forms of influence in our current day and times," said Tonatiuh, an actor on Vida.
4. Protections for preferred pronouns
Preferred pronouns like "they, them, and her, those things need to be acknowledged and they should be respected," said Carlos Miranda, an actor on Vida. "Everybody has their rights. We're all humans, at the end of the day, no matter how you identify."
5. Required lessons in constructive criticism
"How to give [and receive] constructive criticism should be taught in schools, [as well as] having to listen to people more often. Maybe that goes against freedom of speech -- I'm not that well versed in legality," said Mara Wilson, a writer and former child actress (Matilda), with a laugh. "Of course, I would love to create a law about full equality across the board for people of all genders and all sexual orientations and such. But that is what Lambda Legal is doing, so I'm here to support them."
6. A ban on gender policing
"Bodies aren't up for debate -- trans bodies, military bodies, women's bodies," said Ser Anzoategui, an actor on Vida. "All of us know what it is to be violated in that way, being questioned all the time or doubted because of our gender identities."
7. Immigration reform for LGBTQ people
"It would have to do with immigration, and it would have to do with how we are holding our trans sisters ... siblings, how they're being detained. It's a problem, the lack of respect and dignity," said Tanya Saracho, the creator of Vida and Lambda Legal honoree. Saracho also advocated for "different laws also for the transnational couples that sometimes can't be together," as well as the immigrants who are treated as "invisible" by the federal government due to their queer identities.
8. Body liberation
"You don't have a say with what an individual does with their body," said Harvey Guillen, an actor on What We Do in the Shadows. "It doesn't matter if you're male, female ... if it's transitioning, or if it's abortion. It's their choice, their business, their body. Leave it alone."
9. Freedom for women and undocumented immigrants
"You want there to be a law where every woman has a right to their own body. But I also want a law about immigration because you can't just decide to kick people out. ... If you've been paying your taxes and doing everything right, you should have every right to stay in this country and not face deportation," said Chelsea Rendon, an actor on Vida who would fight for an intersectional bill for both causes. "I'd make it one -- somehow!"
10. Social media reform
"No internet trolling," said Kandie, a star of Love and Hip Hop Hollywood. "I would minimize internet use because nowadays I feel like the internet and social media is putting so much anxiety, depression ... [and] negativity in the world. You have a lot of people who follow people and they look up to that, compare themselves in their lives, and not realizing the person they're following is not living that life in their real life. We've got to get social media together."
11. A ban on hate speech
"If I could pass a law, it would be 'keep your fucking mouth shut law,'" said singer Brian Justin Crum. "There's so much hate being spread out there and so much criticism and so much judgment on something that people know nothing about. And we as queer people are just trying to live our lives and we're being prevented from doing so and we're being harmed."
12. Community service
"If you are somebody with power, you cannot shut the door behind you as you walk through," said Cameron Esposito, creator of Take My Wife and host of Lambda Legal's West Coast Liberty Awards. "That is truly the law that I would pass. I find what is upsetting me the most right now in just our community, let's just talk about the LGBTQ community ... we have so many marginalized folks that are part of our family. We have so many people in positions of power that struggled, got through, and then relaxed. The people in this room are the people who don't do that. That's why I'm here to support Lambda Legal. I know there are Advocate readers who might be looking forward to a relaxing summer. Take some of that time, chill out, protect yourself, and then get back to work because we are not done until every single member of our family is protected."