This is first July 4th weekend after the Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality in the United States of America. Those fireworks work displays will have special significance as this may be the first time I’ve ever really believed that liberty and justice for all meant me, too.
When people are treated fairly; when there is equal treatment under the law for all people, we are all better off. As President Barack Obama said:
“Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.” —President Obama #LoveWins
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2015
I’ve been in the fight for LGBTQ equality since the early 1990’s and involved in the battle marriage equality for the past two years as chair of the Board of one of the plaintiffs for the Louisiana marriage lawsuit. My organization, the Forum for Equality, has been fighting against discrimination in Louisiana for many, many years. For us, this win is tremendous.
Of course, our governor, Bobby Jindal, wouldn’t accept such a challenge to his heteronormative worldview (or to his quixotic presidential aspirations). He attempted every delaying tactic possible, including claiming the SCOTUS decision wasn’t binding until affirmed by the 5th Circuit and then, later, claiming he needed it affirmed by the District Court!
It is time for celebration and dancing in the street. Take a moment to bask in the win. Realize how much stress and anger has been weighing you down and roll your shoulders and just let it go. Smile in satisfaction of a job well done.
Soon, enough, we must gird our loins and continue the fight. As Woodrow Wilson told Daughters of the American Revolution in 1915 that the “The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.”
In Louisiana (and 28 other states), while same-sex couples were granted marriage equality on Friday, they can be fired on Monday because they exercised their constitutional rights.
There are no employment protects for sexual orientation or gender identity/expression under Louisiana state law. While folks in New Orleans and Shreveport have such protections, there are also few, if any other protections for LGBT people in the rest of Louisiana in the areas of housing, education and public accommodations.
Our work is not done. As we fold up the tents on marriage equality, we must now muster a new army of activists to make sure that all of us can enjoy the freedoms that Independence Day represents.
Our dream is for someday to have freedom come to all Americans, no matter where they are in the country. As Dr. Martin Luther King said in his famous address:
So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
This fight will be neither easy nor cheap. We’ve already seen how eager those opposed to progress are to use the bible as a weapon against us. We’ve seen how willing they are to expend large amounts of money to defend their right to discriminate. We need your help.
Please consider supporting a state based equality organization like the Forum for Equality. We have great folks working hard and your investment here can have tremendous impact on our ability to make a difference for all Louisianians. Click here for the secure donation page.
To find one in your state, visit the Equality Federation.
Beyond your financial support, we are also looking for volunteers, board committee members and people who can testify before the Louisiana legislature. We are also looking for businesses and corporations to join our Equality Means Business campaign. Please contact Forum for Equality for more information.