June 26th of 2015 will forever be remembered as one of the single biggest victories for the LGBT community in American history. This is the day that the Supreme Court ruled that no state can make any law forbidding same-sex couples from marrying.
As a citizen of one of the first states to legally recognize gay marriage (New Hampshire was 5th behind Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont) and someone with quite a large number of gay, lesbian, and transgender friends, this news raises my spirits enough to still have enough faith in the world to keep charging forward.
That being said, the job is far from done.
Just because same-sex marriage is protected by law does NOT mean other people are willing to accept it. In many ways, the problem of homophobia is likely to become more insidious.
Those that oppose gay couples have already started pushing back; some in ridiculous ways. When those people start perceiving this change as a threat to them (it isn’t, but that’s how change is handled by those who don’t accept it), they will start reacting in more aggressive and bolder ways. As uncomfortable as it may be to think about it, some may even take drastic measures and we may see a spike in violence toward LGBT people as a response to this victory.
Now. It’s possible that this may not happen and same-sex opponents may accept that they were on the wrong side. However, we have to expect that this is a very real possibility. In a world where wars are still sparked over religious hate and racism persists long after anti-discrimination laws are passed, it’s not unrealistic to expect some people to be more active in their use of homophobic language or give more accusatory stares when “the wrong couple” walks into a room.
This is by no means to diminish the victory that has been won. We have every right to celebrate the fact that our government is now obligated to recognize the right of it’s citizens to love whomever they choose.
What I AM saying is that we can’t let this victory make us complacent. We have a long fight left ahead of us and we can’t lower our arms just yet. The ruling in the Supreme Court was a painfully close 5-4 decision showing that tough opposition still lingers.
Homophobia still lives and we can’t rest until we wipe it of the face of the earth. Things may be getting better, but we can make them better still.