On June 26th 1993 Lawrence v. Texas was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ensuring that people in same sex relationships were safe from prosecution based upon who they wanted to have sex with.
On September 21, 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, causing marriage in the United States to be confined to a contract between a man and a woman.
On November 4th 2008 the People of California voted to overturn the decision that gay marriage was legal.
On June 26th 2013 SCOTUS handed down two decisions. The first in the DOMA case: that “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.” (pgs 25-2)
The second was in the matter of Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8) the Court found that the appeal to the 9th Circuit court had no standing, and therefore the decision reverted back – in short, reinstating same sex marriage in the state of California.
Today we’ve stepped forward – There is hope. Finally hope.
But while we’re all raising our glasses in celebration of these victories, let us not forget that the war for equality is not yet won, just these two battles.
We still have to get recognition for same sex marriages in ALL states of the union, and same sex couples should be able to marry not just in 13 states, but in all 50.
If you live in a state where same sex marriage is still not legal, what can you do about it? I for one will be voting for a Governor in New Jersey who does not oppose equality, unlike Chris Christie. I will be supporting the fight in other states by offering my voice up to the internet, I will keep talking, keep sharing, keep talking until everyone is able to marry if they wish.
The war is not yet won because even with the victory comes reminders of bigotry with the dissent of Justice Alito:
In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide. – Dissent on DOMA, Justice Samuel Alito
Even within the gay community there is already a question of whether or not the notion of marriage is a good thing – that perhaps homonormativity is bad. Some have stated that they don’t want to get married – why is the need so great? We need equal marriage for all not because every couple should be married, but because everyone deserves the choice to make for themselves. There are plenty of straight couples who do not get married, in the same way that I am sure there will be many gay couples who will never marry. But I would rather leave the choice of who can get married up to the couple, rather than up to the state or the majority opinion.
I would rather let love be free, and let a ring upon one’s finger be a choice that each couple makes together, not one they have to make because laws stand in their way.