I was wrong. Dead wrong. Even when the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Virginia’s anti-LGBT marriage ban, I continued to be wrong.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone. I and many other journalists, observers, activists, lawyers and advocacy professionals had expected LGBT marriage equality would ultimately head to the Supreme Court again this year, putting most, if not all, continued forward movement on the issue on hold until they ruled a second time on the question. Personally, I thought it’d take another few years for marriage equality to reach the golden shores of our beaches and the blue-ridged slopes of our mountains.
But that’s not how it went down.
On Oct. 6, history was changed when the Supreme Court declined to hear several appellate cases on the issue, including the Fourth Circuit’s landmark Virginia decision. In less than a week, a federal judge in North Carolina followed along with its appellate district — finally opening marriage equality to North Carolina’s LGBT couples.
In 2007, I was a 21-year-old college student, taking a semester off from college to work with Soulforce on their second Equality Ride to conservative, anti-LGBT colleges and universities. That summer, I joined the group again on their New York Right to Marry Campaign. We had the opportunity to stop in New York City, where we had a sit-down question-and-answer period with Evan Wolfson, director of Freedom To Marry.
I asked him then what he thought it would take before a state like mine could see such amazing change. The Supreme Court, he said, would have to rule on the issue.
As it turned out, Wolfson was right — in part. The Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision in the Windsor case, striking down only the federal portions of the Defense of Marriage Act, is all it took for federal district courts and appellate courts to draw their own conclusions on the merits of equal protection for same-gender couples. As 2014 comes to a close, the nation’s highest court remains silent on the issue of full marriage equality across all 50 of our states.
The change we’ve witnessed this year has been tremendous. It almost seems too quick — coming all so much faster than I could have imagined. I’m thankful I’ve been lucky enough to witness these changes first hand.
But I’m not satisfied. Not yet. I want more. We all deserve more.
Marriage was the defining movement story for our community this year. It was so defining that it very often crowded out other important issues in our quest for social and economic justice for all LGBT people. As such, we’ve faced great challenges in getting movement leaders, community members and the media to address a variety of broader topics in desperate need of attention.
With marriage firmly on its road to victory, I hope the next 12 months bring us opportunities to move further forward — on protections from discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing, on more protections and support for LGBT youth, on immigration reform to help our LGBT siblings stuck between caring for their families and fearing possible deportation to nations hostile to their existence, on prohibitions against racial profiling and racist targeting of people of color and on economic justice for our LGBT siblings facing poverty and all the risks it entails.
If our community is to move forward, it must do so united behind a vision that tackles all of these issues with equal weight and skill. We have the talent, the money and the infrastructure. All we need is the will. : :