Two years ago, on June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict and struck down a key element of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), making married homosexual couples able to receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
It was a bittersweet day, as those in favor of marriage equality received a partial victory. However, the ruling had fallen short of the goal:
marriage equality nationwide.
Fast-forward to June 26, 2015, exactly 2 years after the repeal of DOMA. This much-anticipated announcement from the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
What a drastic change merely 2 years after the court was hesitant to address the issue of marriage equality. I cannot even begin to express how much this ruling changes my life and the lives of millions across the country.
How, might you ask, does this same-sex marriage ruling change things? Let me tell you.
My marriage to my wife, who serves in the Navy, is now recognized no matter where we go in the country. We could move to Georgia and the state is now required to treat us like they would any heterosexual couple. Many military couples that were stationed outside of marriage equality states prior to the ruling found that normal tasks became impossible due to the lack of recognition of their marriage.
Something as common as taking your partner’s name turned into a nightmare. Many people were turned away at DMV and Social Security offices and were told that they were unable to update their information due to their marriage being invalid in the state. Now, states are required to treat everyone and their marriages equally.
With the widespread recognition of marriage equality, I can only hope that people will start to throw out assumptions and use the word spouse when speaking to someone they don’t know about their partner.
I can only hope that people won’t look at me in shock when I walk into Navy Federal and correct them when they say “your husband.”
I can only hope that, when the time comes for me to have a family, my wife and I will have a simple, easy time putting both of our names on the birth certificate.
I can only hope that our future family will be viewed in the same light as any other family.
I can only hope that if something were to happen to me, my wife would have the rights to make life-or-death decisions for me in my best interests.
I can only hope that when the time comes for me to be laid to rest, my wife is able to make the important decisions for my funeral.
I can only hope.
But do you want to know what hasn’t changed?
The fact that I could be fired from my place of work in 33 states nationwide due to my sexual orientation. The fact that Arkansas and Tennessee both have bans on non-discrimination laws, making it impossible for protections to be put in place for LGBTQ people. The fact that black queer and transgender people are subject to police scrutiny and violence everyday. The fact that undocumented LGBTQ people can be deported and detained, facing abuse and torture. The fact that 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
The fact that LGBTQ people face harassment, discrimination and violence on a daily basis.
THESE are the things that have not changed from the ruling. And while I am joyous and celebrating a huge victory, I also know that there is a lot more to be done. I’ve seen people be annoyed with the LGBTQ community because they aren’t completely satisfied with the Supreme Court ruling. I can say, with assurance, it is not because we aren’t happy. We are. It’s a victory.
But when we can be discriminated against legally in 33 states, it almost feels like we can’t celebrate too long or we might lose momentum. We need to keep pushing onward and the LGBTQ community is in desperate need of our straight allies for support and love.
Though I am in absolute love with Facebook’s rainbow profile filter, I also know that making your profile picture multicolored is not all that the LGBTQ community needs from our straight allies.
We appreciate the symbol of support, but also know that we need allies to stand beside us and fight for an end to legal discrimination.
Change your profile picture if you desire and then ask a fellow LGBTQ person what YOU can do to help. A movement is not fueled by one group or one individual. It is a combination of many groups all coming together for a common goal. That goal is equality. Not just for marriage, but for the human beings who commit to it.