Unfinished Business: Why We Have to Keep Fighting for Marriage Equality

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This story is a part of AfterEllen’s Toast to Marriage editorial series with SKYY Vodka and Freedom to Marry. Now through June, the campaign is encouraging supporters of equal marriage in every state to show their support by raising a Toast to Marriage on social media and encouraging friends, family and followers to do the same.

We find ourselves in quite a unique period in history. Rarely have I palpably felt that history is being made right where I stand. I was born in 1983 and, of course, many historically significant events have occurred since. But with the exception of 9/11 and a few others, I didn’t sense the gravity of the situation until later. Where I sit now, a gay woman in a committed yet legally unrecognized marriage, I feel in my bones the magnitude of recently passed laws as well as those in the process of being decided.

Marriage equality is a fight that began long before the mainstream media finally allowed it the attention it deserves. As with many social justice movements, it has been a slow process. Within recent years, we’ve seen a nationwide conversation take place on whether granting same sex couples the right to a marriage is constitutional. Although it feels a tad demeaning that the validity of my marriage is up for national debate, I am grateful. We are grateful. The tide is turning.

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While positivity is, in many cases, the best policy, the value of being realistic should not be underestimated. We all listened to the audio of the oral arguments presented to the Supreme Court. (Shout out to my girls Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor!) Isn’t it amazing to hear such strong women boldly standing up and championing equality for queer people?

But, back to the oral arguments–we heard them. We know the outdated nature of the arguments presented by the opposition. We also know certain national treasures like Justice Scalia are less than bothered by an outdated argument. He ate it up and licked the plate. Still, we hope for a positive result. We hope our Supreme Court will do the right thing. But, regardless of the much anticipated decision, we are not and will not be finished.

When I think about the evolution of the movement for LGBT equality, I can’t help but look to the African-American community and its fight against marginalization and oppression–from the abolition of slavery, to the end of segregation and Jim Crow, to the more recent fight known as “Black Lives Matter.”

My philosophy on social justice is that intersectionality is a non-negotiable. I cannot view LGBT equality and equality for the African-American community as separate entities. However, I also cannot deny that both racial equality and LGBT equality have, in some ways, occurred separately. I look to the push for racial equality as a gauge on what to expect in the future for queer people. If I have learned anything from the black community, it is that when laws are passed which outlaw discrimination, many problems still remain. The end of Jim Crow did not magically put an end to racism. Tragedies such as those occurring in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland have shown us that prejudices toward black people are ever-present.

Bigotry of all brands is a funny thing; it has a way of rearing its ugly head with no regard for lawfulness. I point this out not to diminish the important step that the passing of nationwide marriage equality would be, but to bring us to a place of acknowledging reality.

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As many hearts and minds are moving toward acceptance of a more inclusive marriage, an abundance of organizations and individuals remain unconvinced. Every step we make toward marriage equality seems to fuel the uprising that is our opposition. In my home state of Texas, an increasingly prejudiced government is rebuilding and reloading–preparing its ammunition to impede upon a potential ruling in favor of gay Texans. Utterly ridiculous laws to grant businesses the right to discriminate are being seriously considered in more conservative areas of the country. And even if we are granted favor in all of these situations, it will not serve as a magic wand to change hearts and minds that hold fast to homophobia and bigotry.

I know realism has won out. I share what I perceive to be the truth not to rain on your marriage equality parade, but to engage in an honest dialogue with you, my LGBT sisters and brothers. With each victory, whether big or small, a celebration is in order. But celebrate with the notion that, on the other side there is more work to be done.

This post is sponsored by SKYY Vodka and #ToastToMarriage. Visit the AfterEllen and Toast to Marriage Tumblrs for stories from married same-sex couples.

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