By Alex Temblador
Imagine waking up one weekday morning, a morning no different from the days before it. Except it is. See, today the United States government no longer looks at you as a second-class citizen. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has officially stated that you have the right to do the one the thing that you always knew in your heart was a given right to you as a human being. You are gay or lesbian and today you were given the right to marry whomever you wish in every state of this country. Today same-sex marriage has been legalized. Today, love won.
A Short History of the Fight for Gay Marriage
The fight for gay marriage began in 1970 when gay couple, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell filed for a marriage license in Minnesota. They were denied by their county but fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 and lost on the grounds of the exhausted argument of marriage is defined as being between a man and woman. Despite the loss, same-sex marriage had officially become a national topic in the U.S.
One year later, in 1973 Maryland became the first state in the United States to officially ban same-sex marriage and was followed by Kentucky and Washington in the next few years.
In 1996, Bill Clinton signed DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act, which effectively prohibited same-sex married couples from receiving 1,138 federal marriage benefits which included Social Security, immigration rights, family and medical leave, and tax benefits. Almost 17 years later DOMA was found as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The late 90s and early 2000s brought a wave of domestic partnership and civil unions for same-sex couples in states like California and Vermont. Finally, in 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to allow same-sex couples to marry.
This was a short lived victory for in the next two years following Massachusetts’ ruling, 12 states created amendments or laws that denied same-sex couples the right to marriage.
From 2008 to 2013 when DOMA was found unconstitutional, states slowly made decisions about same-sex marriage. California, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa made same-sex marriage legal.
In 2010, a majority of citizens were in favor of same-sex marriage, the first time to ever occur in the United States.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA in 2013, many state bans on same-sex marriage were overturned and found unconstitutional by state courts. Same-sex couples were allowed to marry in a majority of the U.S. by 2015.
The rulings in many states for same-sex marriage were challenged by anti-gay groups and organizations which brought the topic of same-sex marriage back to the Supreme Court in January 2015, was followed by oral arguments in April and ended in a victorious ruling today.
What Does a Same-Sex Marriage Victory Mean for LGBT Families?
Today’s Supreme Court ruling means so much for LGBT families in the United States. First and foremost, it grants citizens in the remaining 13 states with bans on same-sex marriage the freedom to marry, a freedom that has been held from them for too long. Additionally, same-sex couples are now recognized by every state in the United States and will not suffer from differing state laws if they relocate to other states.
Secondly, same-sex married couples all across the United States will now be able to receive all federal and state benefits, the same benefits that heterosexual married couples have always received. Some of these benefits include:
- Social Security
- Filing jointly on federal and state taxes
- Same-sex couples are now both recognized as parents to their children
- Immigration Benefits
- Health Insurance Benefits
- Retirements Benefits
Future Outlook for the LGBT Movement
Today’s ruling is so influential to the outcome of the LGBT movement in the United States. By the Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage, they have effectively stated that religious principles that denied same-sex couples from marrying, such as using the definition of marriage as between a “man and woman” based on religious texts, are not relevant to providing equal and fair treatment to American citizens. In a sense, we have witnessed separation of church and state in the U.S. with this ruling and can hope that religious-based arguments against LGBT persons will hopefully not be used in future rulings.
Moreover, this ruling will hopefully be the catalyst in pushing forward other issues that are related to the LGBT community such as anti-discrimination laws, equal health and wellness benefits for LGBT, conversion therapy, trans persons being able to openly serving in the military, and violence against LGBT persons. With less than half of the United States offering protection to LGBT from discrimination in the workplace and an overwhelming amount of discrimination toward LGBT in housing and other public areas, we are hopeful that now with marriage equality will come more rulings in the Supreme Courts and in the states that will protect LGBT persons, couples, and their families.
Today’s marriage equality ruling is a positive one and it provides us with hope for the future. A future where gay and lesbian couples will be able to move forward with creating their modern families with all the state and federal benefits afforded to them. A future where equality and justice has returned as an important aspect of our country and equal protection is provided to all.
So raise your glass because the future is here.