Marriage equality is an issue that people have been advocating for for a long time. In 2003, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts became the first court to find a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Full marriage equality is something that I knew that I would see in my lifetime; however, I did not expect it to arrive this rapidly.
A whopping 32 states and the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriage. . According to Freedom to Marry, before section three of the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down in June 2013, only 12 states and the District of Columbia had marriage equality. In the last three weeks alone, 13 states have gained marriage equality and three others are on the fast track to gaining it as well. This means that more states have gained marriage equality in the month of October than in the last 10 years prior to U.S. v Windsor. With the exception of judges in Louisiana and Puerto Rico,every federal judge who has heard a same-sex marriage ban case has overturned the ban.
Even with that promise--and even with all of the action taking place right now--there are still 18 states that do not allow loving and committed same-sex couples to marry. This is unacceptable. Whether it be from a Supreme Court ruling, a circuit court ruling, or a state court ruling, there needs to be an affirmative decision made to bring marriage equality to the rest of this country as soon as circumstances permit; I believe we will see full marriage equality in the next few years, at most. People opposed to marriage equality are, in my opinion delaying the inevitable. The train is forging on, full speed ahead.
It is crucial, however, that we do not forget about the rest of the movement in its wake.
PFLAG National’s new president, Jean Hodges, emphasized this when she was installed at the annual meeting on Friday, October 24th. She shared in her speech that “We must not be lulled into believing that full equality has arrived...The work of PFLAG is not done, not by a long shot!” Our new president recognizes the importance of advocating on all fronts, marriage equality is an integral part of the LGBT movement, but not the only part of the LGBT movement.
At the annual meeting, the present members of PFLAG National voted to change the name of the organization from Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to PFLAG National. This name change was enacted to be more inclusive and mirror the organization’s already inclusive practices. The new name more accurately represents the work that PFLAG does, which is support, educate, and advocate on behalf of all LGBTQ persons and allies. I believe that this name is inclusive of all of the issues the LGBTQ community faces, not just marriage equality.
There are multiple pieces of legislation that PFLAG will be advocating for over the next few months, all of which can be found in our new publication, One Voice Can Change the World: The PFLAG National Policy Guide and Advocacy Toolkit, which will be released in the next issue of Policy Matters, on November 5th. Check out this publication for effective ways to use your voice on behalf of yourself and your LGBTQ loved ones. Marriage is just the first stop on a long journey to full civil equality and societal affirmation.