Column: The SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage is a huge step forward for America
The court case is an important milestone in securing equality in the LGBTQ community
Jul. 07, 2015
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
June 26 is perpetually proving to be a productive day for LGBTQ rights. Two years ago on the same day, the Supreme Court struck down the third section of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8. This year, same-sex marriage was finally legalized in the U.S. With a 5-to-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled that the Constitution allows same-sex couples to marry during the court case known as Obergefell v. Hodges. Before the ruling, 36 states and Washington D.C. allowed same-sex marriage. Now, according to Human Rights Campaign (http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/an-overview-of-federal-rights-and-protections-granted-to-married-couples), same-sex couples that wish to marry have the opportunity to benefit from 1,138 different rights and protections on the basis of their marital status.
This court case is a huge leap forward in securing equality in the LGBTQ community. Our country has retreated from more conservative beliefs as demonstrated by the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, and Proposition 8 in California, which defined marriage as only between one man and one woman. In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned both DOMA, in U.S. v. Windsor, and Prop 8, in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Today, 57 percent of Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage, whereas only five years ago, 42 percent of Americans supported it, according to the Pew Research Center (http://www.people-press.org/2015/06/08/support-for-same-sex-marriage-at-record-high-but-key-segments-remain-opposed/). This is the highest level of support that Pew has recorded in almost 20 years of polling on same-sex marriage.
However, while some people may be ready to retire their rainbow flags and activist spirit, the LGBTQ community still has a long way to fight. Marriage equality was simply the tip of a much larger iceberg that our nation has to chip away at. [The LA Times reported] (http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/13/nation/la-na-nn-lgbt-survey-pew-same-sex-marriage-20130613) that 39 percent of people who identified on the LGBTQ spectrum thought that the fight to legalize same-sex marriage distracted the public from more important issues, such as workplace discrimination and adoption rights.
Only 19 states have made discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity illegal.Furthermore, the FBI reported that more than 20 percent of reported hate crimes in 2013 were committed based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is also crucial to focus our efforts on helping LGBTQ youth. [The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s National School Climate Survey of 2014 reported that 74 percent of LGBTQ students were verbally assaulted in the past year due to their sexual orientation and 55 percent due to their gender identity (http://www.glsen.org/article/glsen-releases-new-national-school-climate-survey).
The legalization of same-sex marriage has elicited some surprisingly hostile remarks from public officials. [The Washington Times reported] (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/28/joseph-curl-gop-presidential-candidates-response-t/?page=all) that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is planning on entering the presidential race next month, said, “As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that the ruling has “undermined the fundamental legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court.”
In what could take the cake as the most preposterous response to the decision, Tennessee Reps. Bryan Terry and Andy Holt are attempting to pass the Tennessee Pastor Protection Act, which would protect clergy from having to perform same-sex marriages on church property.
The same-sex marriage ruling came as a joyous surprise for most Americans. Celebrations continue to be rampant all over the country. However, the LGBTQ community and their allies must recognize the importance of continuing the fight for equality. The U.S. still has a considerable amount of effort to put in in the name of equal rights for all. Nevertheless, we can take some time to celebrate the hard work that led our country to this historic moment.