Mixed Emotions

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I’m writing this after finally getting a chance to read over Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges. Today was a very monumental day in the history of the United States. for LGBTQIA people. The Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the right of same-sex couples to marry is on par in historic nature with rulings such as Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, and Roe v. Wade. It is a monumental shift in policy of this country that will have a lasting impact for generations, be talked about in history classes, and spark many discussions of “wow so that really was the case back then?”

But, with that said, I have a bit of tempered excitement today. While for this is a joyous decision, which was handed down during Pride month, it only addresses one piece of the puzzle right now. While same-sex couples will eventually be allowed to marry in all 50 states (there are a few hold-outs at press time), in 29 of those states, you can be fired from your job for entering into your newly acquired right to same-sex marriage according to the Human Rights Campaign. (And additionally in 32 states you can be fired for being who you are.) Here is a state map courtesy of the National Center for Transgender Equality that illustrates this:

Map: State Nondiscrimination Laws
Courtesy: National Center for Transgender Equality

So with that all said, that is why I’m tempered in my excitement today. For while this is a monumental day in the course of our country’s history, one for which I shed tears of happiness when the news broke, one must realize that the work is not done.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

– Justice Anthony Kennedy