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DOMA & Prop 8 Struck Down, But The Fight Is Not Over

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What a monumental day in our nation’s history to finally see the wheels of change honor the integrity of freedom. To come closer than ever in making the words written by our forefathers centuries ago guaranteeing of all of us being treated equally. I am beyond ecstatic about today’s ruling. It means a great deal to me to see the joy and love between two people that have built a life together and fought so hard to have the same rights as straight couples finally be afforded the same right. As of today, 13 states have full and equal marriage.  To see so many couples today celebrate and look at each other with joy in knowing they won’t have to leave this country in order to share their lives with each other.

The warmth my heart felt knowing the beautiful love and union between Edith Windsor and her wife Thea Spyer, was legal, was recognized and it had given validation to a woman that kept the love of her departed so close to her heart. So much that it brings tears to my eyes with joy to think this woman has inspired us to stand and fight when we have been treated unfairly.

But I did not feel it as much as I wanted to. A part of me held back and tried to reconcile the tension I still felt with the historic moment in LGBT history.  And I knew after a few moments what it was. “We are not finished yet. We haven’t even begun to fight.” Maybe that’s why my mood became muted. Because the Supreme Court did not rule completely in our favor as I’d hoped, even with how unlikely that outcome. It made me feel like an outsider because I was holding back on celebrating with passion so many of my friends were exuding. 

And then I was angry. Angry at myself because despite the fact that it was not a sweeping victory it was all the same a monumental step forward so I felt this emotion was taking away from the joyous occasion that so many in this community are celebrating. It was giving me a migraine because that phrase kept coming to mind. So I laid down to calm my thoughts and asked why I felt this way. But my feelings were grounded in truth.

Is it because I know that in the remaining 37 states in this country, including my home state of Tennessee has a very long, hard battle ahead now that it is truly up to the states to decide the rights of millions of Americans. That the couples living here in the rural south that have worked their entire lives and entered long-term relationships for decades still do not have those federal rights that the New Colony states now have. Can still be denied the legal right to call the love of their life their husband or wife.

Or that as an African American it will be an even harder battle because of the Supreme Court’s decision to remove some provisions from the VRA. Some believe this means that states like Tennessee can rezone voting populations of any minority or pose extremely stringent regulations to keep other ethnic minorities from voting altogether to scheme and potentially win elections. To also deny us our right to marry. Who’s to say that this tactic wouldn’t be used against heavily populated LGBT areas to further prevent marriage equality in other states? All because enough justices felt that we live in a post racial society. I would say the family of Trayvon Martin greatly disagrees with that sentiment.

Neither I nor any other LGBT citizen of this country should have to move in order to have the same rights and if the deplorable actions of the GOP state senators from Texas last night are any indication of a time table of when all states will see marriage equality may be another generation. Or more. If we stay complacent.  So that means that there would be another Edith Windsor, this time from the south would have to endure the same pain of having to fight the government in order for her rights as a citizen to be honored.

And that’s why we have to fight now. That’s why we can’t just celebrate and get to work tomorrow on today’s problem. Because each moment we wait is still a moment too long someone is being denied the freedom to love and share their life with someone. We cannot wait and stop to just celebrate this victory. As we are gathering in bars and rooftop parties and in the streets tonight we need to also be discussing how we move forward because we have so much more work to do.

This doesn’t only pertain to marriage equality. We as a community are being denied more rights that affect our livelihood. We still can be fired for being LGBT in over half of the states in this country. So the decision of the Supreme Court today should give us more wind in our sails not tell us to dock safely at shore and sail another day.

Our persistence has begun to pay off and we are at the allegorical light where we make new beginnings. But we are still in that tunnel. Our journey for true and full equality has not ended. It has only gained momentum. It made me resentful towards the leaders in this community that decided to focus only on marriage equality and completely ignored the other rights that are just as important to our way of life. So we can celebrate our victory tonight but at the same time cannot afford to forget even for a moment how much more work needs to be done. 

I felt enormous guilt for my thoughts because again it appeared like I was taking a poignant moment away from those who also deserve it. But I should have no shame in how I feel because we are not done yet because we ALL deserve it. We all deserve the same rights and we all still face more foul, underhanded scare tactics that pretend to be the word of God from the mouths of man and tell us how to live our lives. So until we have completely won we must be willing to fight for ALL our rights.

So I ask everyone that had their marriage fully recognized to continue to fight. I know many have spoken the same words that I am writing today in how necessary it is for us to fight and have vowed to keep fighting.  But we ALL must be a part of the solution so there is no longer room for complacency on our part. That means organizations like HRC and GLAAD need to implement more advocacy not just in marriage equality, but ALL other rights we are being denied. Remember that these organizations that are celebrating right now were the same ones that were too afraid to even bring these cases up for the Supreme Court. We are in the middle of it so we can no longer tiptoe around the issues. The GOP is not wasting any time already looking for ways to overturn today’s decision, so we can’t waste time either. 

To those couples that don’t have to leave the country to continue to fight because we still need your help for states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona that have higher populations of binational LGBT couples hoping they don’t have to move or even worse separate. Hold on to that joy and use it to help initiate equality so that no other family has to endure what you’ve gone through.

Our fight for equality is not over. We cannot rest until we are all equal.

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Sly

Sly Merritt has a BA in psychology/sociology. MA in clinical psychology. He's a flip flop wearing hippy with a peaceloving mindset. Even pacifists like him know when it's time to do all we can for LGBTQ equality. Sly's views are all opinions not advice.

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