Melissa Mikesell

Today We Celebrate, Tomorrow We Get Back to Work

Today’s Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop. 8 add legal momentum to a movement gaining steam since last November when it racked up unprecedented victories at the ballot box.

While the Supreme Court ruling clearly marks a victory for LGBT advocates, it also means there is more work to do.

As Chad Griffin of HRC said earlier today, at the same that HRClogoDOMAwe celebrate, “we know that we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get to work for those in the 37 states that didn’t get marriage equality today.”

So what will advocates for equality wake up and do tomorrow?

State-By-State Marriage Equality Campaigns

While roughly 1/3 of Americans now live in states with marriage equality, in order to make marriage equality a reality for the rest of America, we must continue to fight state-by-state. For example, LGBT advocates in Illinois are already pushing legislators (who came close to approving marriage equality in May) to take a vote on marriage equality in light of today’s rulings.

Litigation

Other LGBT advocates are looking for ways to leverage today’s legal victories in legal strategies in other states. For example, Lambda Legal is planning to use the Supreme Court’s repeal of DOMA to pursue a victory in their lawsuit challenging New Jersey’s civil union law, which bans same sex marriage.

Community Organizing to Change Hearts and Minds

While voters in states like Colorado, Hawaii, and Illinois are clearly ready to end discrimination against same sex couples (and their families), voters in states like North Carolina (which approved a marriage ban last year) clearly need to understand more about how the marriage equality movement helps build stronger families before they will be ready for a change. As we learned in our recent event about the marriage equality victories, the victories last November did not happen overnight.

Instead, they happened through years (and in some cases decades) of community organizing by LGBT advocates to change the hearts and minds of voters. We expect to see advocates continue to share stories in the 37 states that don’t have marriage equality about why gay marriage matters and how at its heart, the movement is about love, commitment, and family.

Fighting for Rights Beyond Marriage

As Matt Foreman from the Haas Jr Fund points out, LGBT advocacy must also be about more than marriage:

“The fact is the majority of states do not protect LGBT people from discrimination or have any kind of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. And as hard as it might be to believe, there are 29 states where you can still fire someone or deny them housing or even service in a restaurant for the simple reason that they are gay.”

“There are real costs to this inequality. Gay and lesbian people are losing their jobs, they’re paying more for benefits and taxes, and they are having a harder time providing for their families. That’s not fair, it’s hurting people and their families, and it needs to be fixed.”

Related reading: Beyond Marriage Equality

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