My Facebook feed is happily filled with rainbows. I love all the happy colors in their infinite variety of manifestation. I love that it’s full of lgbt folks and allies alike. And I choke up, in an elated sort of way, when I soak in what it all means – the history of what got us to today as well as how life will be different for so many people as time marches forward.
It started on June 28, 1969 when I was two years old. Members of the lgbt community in Greenwich Village at the Stonewall Inn courageously stood up and declared enough is enough and that they weren’t going to accept the discrimination anymore when police raided the bar. Riots broke out and lasted for six days. And thus began the modern gay rights movement. As a toddler, I was of course oblivious to all this, but today as an adult, I am forever grateful for these people’s bravery.
In the last 12 years, The U.S. Supreme has timed three historic decisions to coincide with the Stonewall anniversary. On June 26, 2003 they struck down the sodomy laws. On June 26, 2013, DOMA (the defense of marriage act – informally known as don’t as don’t tell) was ruled unconstitutional. And most recently, on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declared nationwide marriage equality.
I am so grateful for the courage and hard work of so many people over so many years that have led to this historic day. I am lucky. I have never personally known the violence and discrimination that so many lgbt people have. I lived the first 40 years of my life as a straight woman, taking all the rights and privileges that go with that for granted. But then nearly 10 years ago I came out and all that changed over night. I was still the same person, but how society saw me and treated me flipped upside down.
I could no longer marry the person I loved. I had to pay imputed tax for the privilege of being covered under her health insurance – and that was only possible because she worked for the university. We had to be sure to have health care power of attorney forms in place and then pray that we would have liberal health care providers who would allow us to visit the other in the hospital if something were to happen to one of us. If one of us were to die, the usual automatic inheritance pathways would not apply to us. We have to file separate tax returns. And the list goes on and on.
But all that changed in one fell swoop on June 26. Instantly, national marriage quality is in place. In thirteen states, people woke up in the morning not being able to marry. But by the time they went to bed, marriage licenses were being issued to same sex couples.
Knowing that everyone, no matter who they are, can now marry whomever they love and have the freedom to travel and live wherever they want and have their marriage recognized is an ecstatic feeling that defies words. Our children, and everyone else’s children, will now grow up with this basic right. Of course, just as with civil rights, discrimination and homophobia won’t disappear over night. But at least the laws are in our favor now.
Take a moment to be grateful, and then go paint some rainbows and jump up and down for joy.