Marriage Equality Wasn’t the End of the Fight, Just the Beginning

When the United States Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality was the law of the land, many of us rejoiced. We’d been fighting for that goal for years after all, and it seemed like that victory would change everything. But it hasn’t. Since then, and especially in 2016, there has been a rash of harsh, anti-LGBT legislature proposed and passed around the country, to deny service to LGBT people on “religious” grounds, to force transgender people to use bathrooms associated with the gender assigned on their birth certificate, and so on.

The fact that we won a victory does not mean we’ve won the war, and the forces arrayed against equality and human rights are not only strong but vindictive. Conservatives are ready and willing to use every means at their disposal to continue trying to oppress LGBT people, and they’re pushing even harder now that they’ve lost the marriage equality fight.

All this is sad, but expected. Perhaps worse is that, since that victory, donations to LGBT groups have dried up. It’s like we won marriage equality and then everybody moved on to other causes. But non-profit and charitable support for LGBT causes are needed now more than ever. Bans on gay marriage were bad, but legalized transphobia is worse. The conservative backlash has to be met with more work, with better data collection, with grants and marches and lobbying. None of which is free, and all of which needs support.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Every civil rights victory in the past has been followed by a backlash, and has required more work and more money to continue the forward momentum. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn’t end racism, ratifying women’s suffrage didn’t end misogyny, and enforcing marriage equality won’t end the threat to LGBT rights.