A little over a week after the Supreme Court announced its decisions on both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, things remain the same for many LGBT people who live in states where constitutional amendments banning the recognition of same-sex marriages remain intact, like my home state of Louisiana.
Although I celebrated last week's historic ruling, there was also the faint realization that not much has changed for me and many other Americans.
Yes, I could move to a state like New York and marry my boyfriend there. And yes, the federal government would now recognize that marriage. But not even having the option to marry the person I love in my home state -- the place where I grew up, where I learned to walk and speak, where I learned to live and love, and the place where I learned what growing up in a loving, committed family felt like -- is proof that the fight for equality still must continue.
This past year has been one that has changed my life on a personal level. At the beginning of this year, I finally had the courage to come out as a gay man to my family.
My story is not that different from those of many other LGBT people. I grew up in south Louisiana, in a conservative evangelical family. My family was filled with nothing but love; however, the church that we attended several times a week taught me that there was something inherently wrong with me. When gay people were mentioned, it was in a less-than-favorable way. Although I knew my family loved me, our church background made it difficult to come out to my family. I was unsure of how they would react. How was coming out to them going to affect my future? The list of possible reactions flooded my mind for years. When I moved away for college, this all changed.
Just a little over a month into college came the point when I finally felt comfortable enough with myself to open up about this part of myself to my family and friends. Much to my surprise, my coming out has been a completely positive experience. Yes, there are occasionally misinformed and ignorant people who make misinformed and ignorant statements, but the positive far outweigh the negative.
For much of my life, I thought I would be alone when I grew up, but not in a sad, "pity me" kind of way; I just accepted the fact that I'd probably have to walk through much of life alone. But that soon changed as well.
Two months after moving away to college, I met someone who changed my life. He not only helped me realize that I'm deserving of love, but he changed the way that I now envision my future. For the first time, I felt the kind of love that one hears about in the movies, and the thought of not being able to be with this person for the rest of my life frightens me to no end.
I had always supported marriage equality, just for equality's sake. However, this political issue now became an issue that affected me directly.
For a moment, when I fell in love, the thought of not being able to marry this person had not even entered my mind. What I was feeling felt so normal and good that I almost forgot that the government does not view my relationship as normal. To have all these feelings of being inadequate and undeserving of love swept away by this wonderful person only to be replaced with a much more burdensome fact that I can not marry this person was terrible.
Although we could get married in a state like New York or, most recently, California, we wouldn't be able to get married in our home state if we chose to. If we got married in a different state and had to move back to Louisiana for whatever reason, our state would not recognize our marriage or our possible family.
You see, Louisiana and 28 other states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, something that the DOMA ruling did not change.
So while we celebrate the historic move made by the Supreme Court, let us not forget about the people who live, and love, in these states. Although the fight for equality is progressing, it still continues.
We still have plenty of work to do.