The news that the Supreme Court is going to rule on same-sex marriage has been out for awhile now and I have been mulling it over. As a member of the LGBT community, it is an important moment in my life, much like coming out was and telling my coworkers that I was gay. I vacillate between excitement and cynicism. Every court decision and vote on same-sex marriage has a measure of danger to it which keeps me from being overly positive. I do not want to get my hopes up only to have them heart-breakingly dashed if the decision is no. But then something like this week’s State of the Union address happens and I can’t help a niggling feeling of positivity creeping into my carefully crafted cynicism. President Obama saying the words “bisexual” and “transgender” in his speech was definitely a big part of the progress on LGBT rights, but is it enough to change my already mixed feelings about such progress?
For some people (particularly conservatives who think the LGBT rights movement is stomping all over them), my mixed feelings require some explanation. While progress for LGBT rights, both with marriage and discrimination, has been relatively rapid and the majority of public opinion is pro-same-sex marriage, this is not a done deal. Things have improved, yes, but not for everyone and not at all times.
For instance, a lesbian couple in Arizona were finally planning their wedding late last year after same-sex marriage was legalized in that state. But what was initially an exciting time for them turned into a nightmare when their wedding planner decided not to work with them because they were lesbians. The discrimination itself was hurtful, but what makes it worse was that it may be totally legal due to the fact that the wedding planner is also an ordained minister. After ruining these two people’s initial happiness, the wedding planner spoke to the media enough to say that the only person not being “tolerated” in the situation was her and her religious beliefs. Progress has only gone so far.
Sure, marriage is legal in some places, but so is firing a member of the LGBT community for simply being who they are. It is very hard to feel like an equal member of society when I have to know what laws protect me in what places. It is hard to feel like an equal member of society when only just now has the president of my country acknowledged me in a public speech. It is hard to feel equal when I not only have to fight to have certain civil rights like marriage, but then have to fight to keep them. Unlike my heterosexual friends, my rights are always in doubt, even when the law says I have them.
So how do I feel about the Supreme Court judging my right to marry? “Mixed feelings” might not even cover it. I hope they say yes. But I know that even if they do, that does not mean that same-sex marriage is a done deal. America has so much more to do before it is done with LGBT progress, before there is enough. And enough means total equality. Nothing less. Only then will I stop having mixed feelings about LGBT progress because only then will I not have to worry about what could happen.
Editorial by Lydia Bradbury