I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that yesterday, the United States Supreme Freaking Court decided that gay people can get married in every state, and that states have to recognize all marriages performed in other states (not just heterosexual marriages, as was universally the case before). Yay!
BUT. Obergefell v. Hodges is not the final frontier for gay rights.
Far from it– yesterday’s decision is only the beginning. First, there will be continued fights over the definition of parentage in states that seek to deny LGBT folks the right to foster, adopt, or second-parent a spouse’s kid(s). (That fabulous op-ed linked below is by a former professor of mine, Doug Nejaime.)
There’s also the issue of what happens in the 29 states where it is legal for an employer to discriminate based on sexual orientation (32 states allow discrimination based on transgender status). If a LGB employee in one of those states gets married, they’ll have to list that person as their spouse on their tax return if they file jointly. Employers can see that. They’ll probably list their spouse on their employment documentation, too. Employers will also see that. If the employer is anti-gay, that could unwillingly out the employee and put them at risk of losing their job.
What if the person wants their spouse on their company health insurance? Employers will definitely see that. Hell, they might even be able to get away with denying the employee or their spouse benefits based on Hobby Lobby and RFRA (ugh, SCOTUS).
Or how about the 33 states where it is legal for a landlord to refuse housing to LGBT people? Obergefell might have given us marriage, but we still have big things to worry about.
Add to all these problems the specific battles trans folk fight, like bathroom access, medical coverage, and protection from violence and abuse, the picture starts to look a lot less rosy.
I’m not trying to say we, as a nation, should not be celebrating yesterday’s win. We DEFINITELY SHOULD.
But we need to remember that the fight continues for many of us who are poor, or live in a state that is not on the West Coast or in New England, or are not white, or are not male, or are not cisgender, or are incarcerated, or are a minor with conservative parents that want to send us to gay conversion therapy, or any number of other intersectionalities that marriage does not help. And please, if you are gay or lesbian and yesterday’s ruling solved all your problems, please, please, please keep fighting for the rest of us. We are going to need you.