THE BLOG
10/13/2014 02:16 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2014

The Fight Beyond Marriage Equality

The following was written Friday, October 10, shortly after North Carolina became the 27th state to gain marriage equality.

Marriage equality, finally, has come to North Carolina.

I remember where I was a little over two years ago when my fellow North Carolinians voted to declare me and thousands of other LGBT North Carolinians as second-class citizens. I remember walking down the staircase from my room and coming out to my mother; the only act of defiance I felt was left to me.

I remember that summer, during Boys' Nation, standing in the Blue Room of the White House, thanking President Obama for his support and having him look me in the eye and tell me he was proud of me for being out and proud.

I remember a year later, standing together in front of the North Carolina Legislative Building with Equality NC Communications Director Jen Jones, activist Jacob Tobia, and many other individuals who had fought against Amendment One and then continued fighting for a better state in the wake of our loss.

And I will remember today, a little over two years later, being on the campus of the University of Chicago where American LGBT activist organizing started with our students long ago, and knowing that Equality is having its day. Marriage Equality has come to the State of North Carolina.

But we must not be satisfied. We must stay frustrated, and stay angry, and stay motivated to keep this movement for full LGBT equality alive.

On the first day of marriage equality we are still second-class citizens in the State of North Carolina.

We still need protections against employment discrimination. Amidst a resurgence of HIV contraction among LGBT youth we need inclusive sex education in schools. We must demand action from our leaders and communities on the scourge of LGBT youth homelessness.

If elections are to truly have consequences then certainly the choices of our leaders should have consequences on their electoral chances.

Today, US Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R-NC) needlessly delayed marriage equality in North Carolina, defying the clear controlling precedent of the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and the actions of the United States Supreme Court.

While Senator Kay Hagan has been supportive of LGBT citizens and marriage equality, Tillis has been vindictive and calculating in the name of politics. When North Carolina voters go to the polls on November 4th, they will surely respond to Tillis' reckless use of taxpayer dollars on needless legal stunts.

Yes, this moment is most certainly a time for celebration. Today marks a huge victory and reflects the tireless efforts of LGBT activists and community leaders from all across North Carolina. But we must not stop fighting. We cannot afford to rest. Too much is at stake.

I know in my heart that we cannot be kept down--our community proved that today--because we will not allow ourselves to be kept down.

And so we march on.