Last Wednesday, starting at 10am Eastern, I was participating in a remote training session at work. This was also about the time that the Supreme Court announced their rulings on the two big same-sex marriage cases they had heard earlier in the year. Needless to say, I wasn’t paying much attention to the training.
The rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 were momentous. The highest court in the land declaring (even if by a shamefully thin margin) that gays are people too, and deserving of equal protection under the law is probably the biggest single step forward I’ve witnessed so far in my life. And I think everyone felt it.
I ventured out that night, in New York City, and the street was blocked off in front of the Stonewall Inn, the place where the gay rights movement began. And the street was full of people, celebrating! There were some news crews around, and every once in awhile you’d hear the sound of a bottle of champagne being uncorked and a spontaneous cheer would rise up from the crowd. The Stonewall itself was packed and the atmosphere was festive. I overheard a bar back tell some people they were running low on vodka!
The war for full equality rages on, and the enemies of progress and equality are going to be digging themselves some deep trenches. But we won a major battle with these rulings–particularly on DOMA. The winds of change are blowing in the right direction. But we can’t get complacent and assume everything will work itself out. It hasn’t been that long since a number of gay men were attacked right in Manhattan–including one who was shot to death. Many states do still not allow same-sex marriage and in some, people can still lose their jobs for being gay. We should absolutely celebrate this win and enjoy the feeling, but we must also stay vigilant.