I have been marinating this post for like, two days now, and I am no closer to being able to articulate it well. Someone else could, I’m sure. Someone who doesn’t just turn into a flaily bundle of gestures when trying to talk about emotional ideas.
But here’s a thing: I keep seeing people complaining about the same-sex marriage decision that the Supreme Court made because they think marriage rights aren’t going to solve any problems. And quite aside from the 1200+ tangible benefits available to married couples in the United States, let me tell you what else this did:
This set a precedent.
A solid, legal precedent.
That is invaluable when it comes to the rest of the problems we are facing as a community.
Because see, the thing is, discrimination against us is categorically based on things like the gender of people we are attracted to. It is, in a very large part, based on our romantic relationships.
The Supreme Court of the United States just ruled that our relationships are constitutionally protected.
That means that other discriminations we face based on our orientation – being fired from our jobs, for example, or being denied equal housing – can now be taken to court with the legal precedent that the Supreme Court says that we are constitutionally protected. It means we have a much higher chance of winning those cases.
And on a social level, this takes HUGE steps toward normalizing same-sex attraction in day to day society. There are babies that were born today who will grow up in a world where it was always possible for them to marry their same-sex partner. They will grow up in a world where the phrase “same-sex marriage” is no longer relevant because the word “marriage” includes same-sex relationships on an equal status. They’ll grow up seeing married couples who are of the same gender. It will cease to be something remarkable because it will just be normal.
And while that doesn’t mean that hate is going to go away completely (just because something is illegal doesn’t mean people stop doing it!) it does mean that attitudes will begin to change. That’s huge. Same-sex attraction losing a large part of its stigma means that maybe fewer parents will reject their gay, lesbian, and bisexual children on the basis of their attraction in the future, which may reduce LGBT teen homelessness, which is a large problem we’re facing! The tangible benefits available through marriage will help reduce some LGBT poverty issues, especially in the elderly LGBT community who have not been able to afford medical care under their partners’ medical insurance up until now! Who have been evicted from the homes they’ve shared with their partners for years and years because their names weren’t on the lease and inheritance taxes are steep if you’re not legally married! The reduction of public stigma of our orientations and relationships will probably go a long way toward reducing LGBT teen suicides!
What this decision does, more than anything, is provide a basis and a workable foundation for all the work we still have left to do. It gives us a huge boost. It gives us hope.
And the fact that some people are shitting on this because it doesn’t immediately solve all the other problems facing the community today just shows how little we understand about the long, multifaceted struggle, and how much winning one big battle can turn the tide in a long, exhausting war for equality.
This decision is huge, and awe-inspiring, and it’s worth our time and energy to celebrate it and be happy about it and allow ourselves to feel hope.