“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach . . . .” So begins Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion that history will remember as one of the defining waystations on the road to full justice for the LGBT community. After decades of struggle, the nationwide freedom to marry for same-sex couples is finally being achieved.
The couples, the families, the children, the widows and widowers — today, all of them have been granted a dignity that has been denied to them for far too long. Going forward, the protections and responsibilities — and the joy — that marriage provides to so many will be available to families across the nation.
This is an historic day, and one that the LGBT rights movement has fought for decades to achieve. We are proud to have brought a lawsuit that resulted in a federal court’s decision striking down Florida’s marriage ban, and we are thrilled that today’s Supreme Court decision finally declares that ban, and others like it across the country, unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court’s stirring words and deeds, unfortunately, cannot correct the wrongs of the past. Children cannot un-feel what they felt when they came to learn that their families were considered second-class, and widows and widowers cannot retroactively gain access to the hospital bedside of their spouse who lay dying—nor will they ever be able to celebrate a decades-long relationship through a marriage ceremony.
But though these and many other harms may never be righted, the Supreme Court’s opinion will propel the movement forward to a day when fewer and fewer of the tragic stories that have marked the last decades of struggle come to pass. Today, wedding bells will ring across the land, but other peals can be heard as well: tears of joy, cries for justice, and clarion calls to march on.
And march on we will. As we celebrate passing the waystation of marriage, we will continue to fight against the challenges that remain: the violence against and criminalization of transgender people, particularly trans women of color; discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; the safety of our youth; the stigmatization and criminalization of those living with HIV and AIDS; racial justice; conditions of confinement; homelessness; police brutality; and access to healthcare, to name only some of the issues.
Some of this work will be focused on the South in particular, where the needs can sometimes be the most acute. But injustice knows no geographic boundary, and just as the fight for marriage required an enormous investment of resources from advocates and supporters over many years, so too will the challenges ahead require that commitment. If we are to interrupt the cycles of oppression, we must do so together. So, today, as we celebrate our monumental win of the freedom to marry, let us also celebrate our resolve to continue on our march for justice, unwavering and in unity.