In reflection on the historic June 26, 2015, where gay and lesbians won the right to marry whomever they wish in all 50 states including Texas, I am filled with happiness and sadness at the same time.
I am happy for all of the people that now have access to the legal institution of marriage. I am happy that these people are able to have the relationship with their partners that I enjoy with mine. I am happy for all of the other avenues this decision will open for the LGBT community. I am happy for the children of gay and lesbians who will have some of the stigma attached to their families removed.
But, I am also filled with sadness because as far as we have come for LGBT rights, we have farther to go, especially here in Texas. Dallas may be a little closer to the cutting edge, but we are surrounded by counties and government officials who are not. I am saddened by the government officials in Texas and probably in other states that are laying behind the log of religious freedom instead of doing the job the taxpayers pay them to do, issue marriage licenses. I am saddened by the religious officials that compare this ruling to the “last days” and to the end of the world just because two men or two women want to have a government license to join their lives together. I am saddened by the hyper-political nature of the Justices’ dissenting opinions – there derisiveness is indicative of the derisive nature of politics in our society today.
All of this means that the Obergefell decision is just the beginning of obtaining liberty and justice for all in the LGBT community. Social acceptance and tolerance must still be won at the level of human interaction. After all, in 2008 even President Obama, who will herald the Obergefell decision into the annals of his legacy, said, “I am not in favor of gay marriage” because “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.” He cited his religious beliefs in support of his position. He said this to a megachurch, he said it to MTV. He said it on the internet. (See President Barack Obama’s Shifting Stance on Gay Marriage.)
Then, in 2012, during an interview with Robin Roberts, President Obama announced clearly that he had changed his mind and decided to support the right of gay and lesbians to get married. He referenced staff members, friends, and family who are in committed same sex relationships as influential in his turnaround. (See Robin Roberts’ ABC News Interview with President Obama, May 9, 2012.)
So, as even President Obama turned around on gay rights because of his personal interaction with gay and lesbian people, it will take continued interaction and outreach between the gay community and the straight community to build acceptance that extends outside the four corners of the Obergefell decision. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. And, so too, LGBT equality will not magically appear on June 26, 2015. But, June 26, 2015 provided the cornerstones of those rights upon which we can build for many years to come.