Today we can pop the cork on the champagne, but make sure you don't drink it all. The Supreme Court gave us a total win for marriage-equality in Obergefell vs. Hodges, but we must remember it is only one of the many fights still to be won.
Today, we must honor the many people who have fought long and hard for this day, and the celebrations will last long into the wee hours of the morning. The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision has said that our marriages are legal and protected by the constitution. We could send bottle of champagne to justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and maybe even two to Kennedy. As one of the founders of the Campaign for All D.C. Families and its first President, the group that coordinated the fight for marriage equality in the District of Columbia, I am grateful this day has finally arrived. Since we won the right to marry in D.C., many of my friends have taken advantage of that right and now live in wedded bliss, or so they tell me. Seriously, many now have children and are living out a version of the American dream.
For me, the fight for marriage equality was never personal in the sense of still being blissfully single with no desire to marry. But it was a fight that needed to be fought because of the meaning it has for so many today, and for future generations. A young man or young woman growing up today will know that being gay or lesbian won't stop them from looking forward to the same loving relationship, with marriage and family, that all their straight friends could always have. They will have role models to look up to, and know that a life shared with the person they love, sanctioned by law, is possible.
The book should now be written about all the people who made this possible. Thus far, we have only recognized a few of them, and there are so many who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and didn't see their names in headlines. They need to be thanked, and their stories need to be told, from the first fights in Hawaii, to victory in Massachusetts to the court decision today.
But our fight for civil and human rights for the LGBT community goes on. Marriage equality is only one rung in the ladder to victory. Bigger battles are yet to be fought and won. We cannot accept that you can marry today, and in 37 states, lose your job or be denied a place to live tomorrow. And even when we win those fights, there will still be the work to change the hearts and minds of those who still believe we are different and not deserving of love and decency.
In 1974, Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) introduced a comprehensive civil rights bill in the Congress for the LGBT community which went nowhere. Unfortunately, the new bill being considered for introduction today may have the same reception. What we have learned from the history of the civil rights movement and the women's movement is that even changing the law is only step one in the battle for acceptance. That was brought home to us again in the act of hate and terrorism perpetrated in a Charleston church two weeks ago. We keep wanting to believe that things will change with a new generation, but the perpetrator of that heinous crime was a young man of 21.
We do know people aren't born with hate in their hearts. Hate, racism, sexism and homophobia are traits that are taught. They are passed on from one generation to new generations from ignorant and often scared people. People who want to blame their own insecurities and shortcomings on someone else. Changing that dynamic will take a long time, but we can never give up that fight.
The LGBT community has made legal gains with a speed that was unimaginable just ten years ago. We will continue to make those gains if we are steadfast in our efforts, and are joined by our allies who are so important to us. We have seen in Indiana the strength of the business community when they step up to support us.
So let us take the time to pop a few corks today in celebration of a big victory. Then tomorrow, we will begin the next fight, and we need to be ready to take that on together.
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