Today, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling on one of our generation’s most important human rights issues, the right of same sex couples to marry. In a 5 – 4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states are required to allow same-sex couples to marry.
“This ruling is a victory for America.” -President Obama
For many born in the second half of the 20th Century, marriage equality has been a concept viewed as distant and unachievable. But in a mere decade, the tide began to change. In what seemed to be a modern miracle to many, Massachusetts granted same-sex couples the right to marry in 2004–the result of the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling in 2003 allowing same sex couples to marry. The ruling was a vindication to many who said that mechanisms in place, such as Civil Unions, were insufficient.
Following the Massachusetts ruling, the dominos began to fall. Through multiple initiatives, change came faster and faster, state by state, with Pennsylvania following suit in 2014.
The LGBTQ community has waited. Waited for the moment, that despite protests and legislation in various states to attempt to limit LGBTQ rights, the Supreme Court of the United States would vote on marriage equality. Now, the long battle has come to a close and those that were confident of victory have proven to be on the right side of history. To those that have waited, there is now a positive resolution to this national debate.
Joy and Protests
The joy is palpable and there will be celebrations across the country, as all people will finally be allowed to legally express their commitment and love to the person of their choosing. And for that, many will be grateful.
There will also be protests and screams of religious persecution from those who have fought this with every breath. One minister has promised to set himself aflame if the ruling did not go his way. Though the law is now in place, the debate will continue.
The Equality Battle Continues
So now all will be good, or will it? Marriage equality may be the law of the land now, but there are many other ways that the LGBTQ community has not reached equal status. When is equal really equal? When does everyone enjoy the promise our constitution makes to all citizens? Not until discrimination based on sexuality or gender is eradicated. But in many states it is legal to refuse housing on this basis, or that one can be fired without cause for no other reason than being gay. That service can be refused. That people with HIV who cause no harm can be prosecuted for their status. The list goes on and on.
And while there may be great reason to celebrate as marriage equality is now finally a reality, let’s all remember, LGBTQ and Allies, that the work has only just begun.