I have mixed emotions as I write these words on this truly historic day when the Supreme Court granted marriage equality to same-sex couples nationwide in Obergefell v. Hodges, thereby striking down bans in the remaining 14 states.
On one level, I am ecstatic that our love and our relationships now hold the same legal status as different sex couples with all the economic privileges, benefits, and responsibilities, as well as enhanced claims of non-birth partners in the raising of children. Especially for upcoming generations, most will not have to live with the extreme levels of scorn and the second-class legal status, which so many of us endured.
It was good to hear President Barack Obama – who has advanced LGBT equality more than any other president – say today in his congratulatory White House remarks that “Love Is Love,” something we have long held and expressed. He said the Supreme Court ruling was the “consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents. Of parents who loved their children no matter what. Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts and stayed strong and came to believe in themselves and who they were, and slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.”
And this is only one reason why I support the courage of trans and immigration activist Jennicet Gutiérrez, who interrupted Obama’s speech two days prior at the White House Wednesday, June 24 in commemoration of LGBT Pride Month. Gutiérrez is a founding member of FAMILIA TQLM created to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants, which the group argues are largely excluded from immigration debates. And immigration issues, which Gutiérrez “brought to the highest level of public discourse,” as we within the AIDS activist movement phrased it back in the 1980s, and many other issues highlight an entire other side of emotions emerging within me on this historic day because we as a nation have yet many more paving stones to lay on the path toward social justice.
For example, following Obama’s Rose Garden remarks on marriage equality, he boarded a plane to Charleston, South Carolina, where he was to give a eulogy at the funeral of murdered pastor, civil rights advocate, and South Carolina state Senator Clementa Pickney, who was gunned down along with 8 others by a lone white supremacist terrorist while attending a Bible study group at Pinkney’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.