In the days leading up to the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, I found myself worrying about the how the decision would effect the struggle for equality. I questioned what would happened if we won. We did win, and I’m still worried.
Of course, I could not be happier with the decision, and I think this is a positive and important step in gaining LGBTQ equality in both america and in the international community. The emphasis in the previous sentence, though, is that it is a step in gaining equality and not equality itself.
It is not equality itself, because while a same sex couple can now marry in a state in which they were preciously unable to marry in, they are not necessarily safer walking hand-in-hand on the street next to the courthouse in which they exchanged vows. It is not equality itself, because while adult same-sex couples can now realize their rights as a married couple, LGBTQ youth are still the highest percent of homeless youth in America, unable often to realize their rights to personal safety. It is not equality itself because, in some states, a person can marry their same sex partner on Saturday and be fired for their sexual orientation Monday morning.
My biggest fear is that we will fail to put this historic moment into context, that we will fail to see it as a step as opposed to final victory. Roe v. Wade was a historic moment in its time, but it did not end the fight on women’s reproductive rights. Brown v. the Board of Education was also a clear victory in 1954 for the civil rights movement, but as we have unfortunately seen over the past few weeks, it did not end the struggle for racial equality. Yesterday’s ruling was a huge victory, but our struggle and determination for true equality cannot end here.
I read a statistic recently that said 3/4 of all funding for LGBTQ causes in America currently goes to marriage equality. That’s a lot of money for one issue. Now that marriage equality exists, it is crucial that we dedicate our resources to other issues that affect the community. I hope that, in light of yesterday’s victory, funds will be re-arranged to support other causes and not simply vanish now that one struggle has been won. Furthermore, we must recognize that this issue does not stand alone. The rights of an LGBTQ person who is a woman, a person of color, or not cis-gendered is dependent on the rights of other, connected groups. The struggle for equality for LGBTQ people must include equality for all people.
Every person yesterday, gay or straight, on my FB news feed celebrated this victory, and I think that is a positive sign that our society cares about the LGBTQ community… We should use this opportunity to reflect on this moment and ask how we can further aid in creating a truly equal society.
Today, we should celebrate a huge victory and this historic moment, and tomorrow, we should continue the struggle until everyone is safe, until everyone has rights protecting them in all aspects of life, and until there is full equality.