On Monday, the US Supreme Court refused to hear any of the pending appeals of same-sex marriage decisions.
Of course, I’m happy but I also feel a little like we’re walking north on a southbound train. I can’t help but wonder if these steps forward can get us where we want to go when there is so much more to do.
The LGBTQ movement needs to focus on more than marriage. We need to nurture our homeless queer youth, better support our transgender brothers and sisters, protect our queer elders and empower queer people of color. Our people need to feel safe in their homes and should not fear losing their jobs or their kids because of their identity or orientation. We need to know that our communities wont suffer from disparate economic impacts nor lack access to health care because of prejudice or bias.
In short, marriage isn’t now and won’t ever be the answer to everything.
But it’s not nothing, either.
The impact of the SCOTUS decision is massive. The appeals were from same-sex marriage cases out of Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The US Supreme Court has effectively legalized marriage equality in those five states, which are part of the 4th, 7th, and 10th circuits. It also ended bans in six others – Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming (which had been on hold pending review).
This historical moment holds particular personal relevance to me. I grew up around the South as an army brat – we made homes in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. I choose to move back South as an adult and now make my home in Louisiana.
All in all, I love it. I feel more at home here than I ever felt on either the East or West coasts. While there is much for me to love, the systematic hostility to queer folks makes my heart ache. The South makes it hard to be ANYTHING but straight. Far too many of the pink sheep of the family are still not welcome to live our lives authentically in the place of our birth.
Yet, the news today that 30 states will soon have marriage equality gives me hope. I hope there will be more queer kids who love places like Louisiana AND who won’t feel like they need to run away from home to be who they are.
There is more work to do but, tonight, we can celebrate all the possibilities in the Supremes decision to allow more marriage equality for more people.
Here in Louisiana, we can also celebrate that the fight for marriage equality now has a new fighter. Lambda Legal has joined Forum for Equality Louisiana and the law firm, Stone Pigman, in bringing our appeal to the 5th Circuit.
So, raise a glass to love, y’all. We have a train to catch tomorrow!