Work Yet Left To Do

On Friday, I celebrated. The Supreme Court had just, by a 5-4 majority, defended the right of homosexuals to marry across the entire country. No more would some of my friends have their basic rights subject to popular opinion on a state-by-state basis or used as a chip in a game of political checkers. Finally they would be granted equal standing under the law as the rest of the United States. It was a historic and incredible moment, and perhaps the first time I truly felt proud to be American in a more than perfunctory way, proud in a way that felt powerful and emotionally significant.

On Saturday morning, though, reality set in when I woke up and searched “gay marriage” on Google. The very first result was Mike Huckabee’s response to the Supreme Court’s Ruling, in which he called the highest judiciary of his own country an “imperial court” and called on Americans to “resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.” The implications of this comparison, while they may have gone unnoticed for Huckabee, are frightening. After all, every American child knows exactly how we dealt with the last tyrannical court we encountered: a violent revolution against the British empire. In other words, a presidential candidate feels so threatened by the Supreme Court protecting gay marriage that his thoughts immediately turn, even if subconsciously or subtly, to a violent overthrow of his own judiciary system.

What might have been even more frightening, though, (because I don’t honestly believe there will be a revolution over gay marriage) was that not a single Republican presidential candidate supported the ruling or spoke our against Huckabee’s ridiculous and embarrassing comments. Every single presidential candidate of the political party that has a majority in both houses of congress is opposed to treating homosexuals equally under the law as the rest of society, and that can't be anything but scary.

Friday’s Supreme Court ruling was undeniably a win for homosexuals and their supporters all over the United States. But it was not victory. It was not the end. In a nation where homosexuals are driven to attempt suicide three times more often than their straight peers, there is still work to be done.  In a nation where 14 states forbade gay marriage until this past Friday, there is still work to be done. In a nation where some conservative politicians feel so threatened by the prospect of treating homosexuals equally under the law that some have already proposed a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, there is still so much work to be done. 

We cannot let ourselves repeat the mistakes our nation made 150 years ago, when the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were met with poll taxes, grandfather clauses, widespread racism, and violence against former slaves who dared aspire to full citizenship. We must realize that true equality and citizenship is determined not of the law but of how we treat each other and that, while the supreme court has indeed taken a huge step forward on the road to equality, it is up to we the people to make sure that the recent ruling was not simply an empty gesture.