Upwards and Onwards

As marriage victories continue, systemic injustice remains to be fought

Earlier this week the Supreme Court decided to let stand appeals court rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states, ushering the largest victory for the rights of same-sex couples across the country since the Windsor case in June of last year. The Court's orders tacitly confirmed the right to same-sex marriage in 30 states, for in letting stand the decisions in three federal appeals courts overturning bans on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin, the Court also paved the way for the six other states in those courts' districts to overturn similar bans.

Though the Court's decision not to hear arguments in practical terms is a victory for same-sex couples, it is still curious move. It is wonderful that now in a majority of states same-sex couples will have legal recognition of a right they should have had long ago, but the Court's actions have still delayed the question of a nationally-recognized right to same-sex marriage. Today, poll after poll has shown that a majority of the American people believes that same-sex couples ought to have the right to marry, and the Court ought to affirm this right explicitly in the near future. It took until 1967 for the Court to explicitly rule that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional, and we hope that a similar delay will not take place with the case of same-sex marriage.

The Court and this country have made incredible strides in the direction of expanding the rights of same-sex couples to marry, but marriage inequality remains only one of many systematic injustices against members of the LGBTQ community in this country. The percentage of the population that identifies as LGBTQ is disputed, but nearly 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT. Fifty-two percent of the LGBT population lives in states that do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 83 percent lives in states with no laws banning "gay conversion therapy" for minors. Discrimination against the LGBT community is still virtually everywhere, and it is our duty to dismantle discrimination wherever we happen upon it.

Congress, by its inaction, has tacitly confirmed its belief that these issues are not a priority. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act should have been passed long ago. But in its current form, with a broad religious exemption provision tacked on, it is a shell of its former self. Civil liberties groups across the country have withdrawn their support. ENDA simply isn't what it needs to be, and it is shameful that Congress has let these issues fall by the wayside.

Equality and justice are the ends of long and difficult struggles, but victories are coming, and continue to come. We hope they come quickly.



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