Same-Sex Marriage is Legal in the U.S., What Now?
Photo by Benson Kua
I woke up last Friday morning to a text telling me same-sex marriage had been legalized. I got on Facebook and already half my friends had rainbow overlays on their profile pictures; my newsfeed was awash in rainbow flags; my aunts and others had reposted photos from their first commitment ceremony; and the whole world seemed to be celebrating. Over the weekend, everyone I knew kept saying things like “love has won” and had an extra bounce in their step. Everyone was rightfully thrilled that the United States had finally legalized same-sex marriage.
Through it all one tiny article popped up on my feed that stood out from the rest, one little crack in my Facebook armor. It was posted by a Mormon relative, it was a quiet article, and it sounded like the last gasp of the opposition. The article was about Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn its decision. It wasn’t all fire and brimstone, just the same tired arguments. Still, it was enough. That crack sent me spiraling down the rabbit hole of the internet and reading all the latest arguments by the opponents of same-sex marriage (mostly variations on old canards).
I read about how we’ve supposedly opened the door to pedophiles, bestiality, and hell on earth in general. I read about how an increasingly permissive, supposedly “sissifying”, or “corrupted” world has led the youth of today astray. I read way too many articles about how same-sex marriage will “damage” children or that marriage is exclusively about procreation. I read a few articles arguing that marriage has nothing to do with the state and should be done away with all together, that people would rather not have marriage than allow same-sex marriage.
All in all, it was an odd afternoon for me. Of course, I know there isn’t universal support for same-sex marriage and that the whole world isn’t celebrating with me, but that’s different than immersing myself in the opinions of the other for an afternoon. Sometimes I worry that it’s so much fun to bask in that rainbow glow of victory on our Facebook feeds that we allow ourselves to forget how many people are still fighting this decision. Consider Roe v. Wade, a case that seemed to have answered the question of abortion before I was born, but here we are still talking about access, conditions, and repeal decades later. I honestly don’t think same-sex marriage will face the same legal challenges as abortion, but I think that general acceptance and support will still be a long time coming.
As the initial glow faded, many of my friends began asking us to remember that in the midst of this celebration there is still homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, discrimination, and violence. These things will continue even with same-sex marriage. It’s easy to forget that many challenges still face LGBT people and that total equality may remain a long way off. We still need to fight for the universal inclusion of sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws, for better enforcement of hate crime legislation, for programs to aid thousands of homeless LGBT teens who have been callously abandoned by their families, for the broader acceptance of LGBT rights in fundamentalist and evangelical churches, and so much more. Plus, let’s not abandon our LGBT neighbors in countries where they have yet to make the strides we’ve made so far here.
It’s easy to forget that there are people out there who don’t think like us or like those in our immediate circle. Safe spaces are important, but it is also important to occasionally leave that bubble and expose ourselves to the broader world. So, go forth and Google. If you haven’t lately, I implore you to see for yourselves what others are saying about this and other issues. Celebrate the victories, but please don’t think that the LGBTQIA community no longer needs activists or allies. We need every one of you more than ever.