It’s a little hard to put into words my thoughts and feelings about the fantastic Supreme Court ruling today on equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. On the one hand, I worked (eventually full-time) on the issue for over two years in Delaware — something I’m very proud of — but on the other hand, I’ve been out of that line of work for almost as long (and so the big victory I was most involved in happened a couple years ago rather than today). I also definitely remain very aware how many other LGBTQ human rights are yet to be secured in many states — particularly on employment discrimination and life or death matters.
Still, the achievement today is not nothing. Far from it. It’s not just abstract that some happy young couples — congratulations! — can finally get married. There are a lot of older families that will be more legally and financially secure than they ever have been. That’s a really big deal. So this ruling is very important to celebrate today, even if there is a long way still to go in other areas. It’s a little disappointing to see a genuine achievement played down in some circles. It’s not a capstone, but it’s still significant.
We may also be in for a bumpy ride on implementation. Some folks and officials are reacting with almost as much resistance as they did to the split Roe v. Wade abortion legalization ruling in 1973 or to the unanimous Brown v. Board of Education ruling of 1954. I’m cautiously optimistic that that initial reaction will subside in the coming days, weeks, months, or maybe a year. But many social conservatives know from those two “controversial” rulings that if they resist hard enough, the Supreme Court has little way of compelling compliance and the effective impact is sharply reduced. That’s very troubling. I hope it doesn’t pan out that way.
For now, however, I’m celebrating and remembering some of the highlights of the small part I played in this some time ago. It was the right thing to do, even when it wasn’t wildly popular, and I’m glad things moved quickly enough that I could see this ultimate outcome not very long after. Sometimes governmental processes move too slowly to see citizen actions having an impact. It’s cool to see it happen this time.