I stood at the steps of history today.
This summer, I am interning on Capitol Hill with Representative Jim Langevin (RI-02), but I found it very important to be in front of the Supreme Court for the handing down of the decision guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry. Since I come from a family with a white mother and an African-American father, I like to equate the Obergefell decision to the Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967. My parents would have never been able to get married and have me without that decision. Even though I'm a straight ally, I know that love can be found in all sorts of ways. As a sociology major, I love going to events where I can see people who have often struggled for many years persevere. It was amazing to see the love and the passion in the air this morning. If that isn't love, I don't know what is. I truly think this is a new day in America. I knew I had a responsibility to be there.
The event was the second most exciting event I've ever attended. I was at President Obama's inauguration in 2009, and nothing will ever match that, but this was close. The moment the decision came down is one that will remain in my head for the rest of my life. I see interns running out of the building, and the people around me refreshing Twitter. Then the person beside me says, "14th Amendment, Gay Marriage is Legal.." And, I do the only thing I could imagine doing -- throwing my arm up in the air in celebration, and waving the gay pride flag. In the first few minutes after the ruling, most people led chants, and we also spent a little time going back and forth with the opponents, before about fifteen minutes after the decision, they let people up onto the steps of the Supreme Court, where I could look out and see the large crowd that was gathered behind me. By then I saw people hugging, kissing, crying, celebrating. There was a whole range of emotions, and I would say that 95 percent of the people there were on the side of equality. A little later, I actually got to meet a few of the plaintiffs. I had wandered towards the media area, and Jim Obergefell was giving an interview right in front of me. So after he finished I got to congratulate him, and I was right behind him when he got the call from Vice President Biden. It was clear that he was elated, but also exhausted. This was a long fight, and I think Obergefell's excited to officially be with his husband. Honestly, I don't know if this has set in entirely for me yet. Some of my closest friends are gay, and I'm just thrilled that they finally have the opportunity to get married like I do, no matter what state they live in. Above the doors to The Supreme Court, it says "Equal Justice Under Law." Today, the five justices in the majority of this decision lived up to those words.
Looking forward though, there's still work to be done. Gay people are still very discriminated against in the country. Even after Loving v. Virginia, there was backlash around the country. While this decision is final, there are going to be opposition voices that speak out, as well as same sex couples who fear getting married. That isn't equality. It is still legal to fire someone for being homosexual in 29 states. That's unacceptable. As the Vice President of the Wake Forest College Democrats, when I get back to campus, I'm going to work to make sure that everyone feels comfortable on campus, and hope to partner with groups on campus for Ally training for students of all backgrounds. People need to acknowledge, that though this is a huge victory, there are more victories to be had. I still have a lot to be thankful for as a cisgendered, straight male. It is still not easy to be a gay or transgendered person in the United States. But this is a definite positive. Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we get back to work.
Sebastian Ivory is a sociology major at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C and the Vice President of the Wake Forest College Democrats.
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