Since President Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage, there have been many victories and disappointing setbacks in the battle for marriage equality. As public opinion moves in favor of same-sex marriage, opponents are digging their heels in the sand and spitting hateful and divisive language in every direction. Each victory attained emboldens anti-equality factions to take more drastic steps to thwart any progress for marriage equality.
A major decision was reached in the battle over Prop 8 this week. The Californian Ninth Circuit court decided that there will not be a rehearing of an earlier decision by a three judge panel that declared Prop 8 unconstitutional. The new, eleven-judge panel has now cleared the way for pro-Prop 8 supporters to appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will not review the case in conference until October at the earliest, and then a decision would not be announced until next summer.
I’ve always believed that marriage equality will be obtained through the court system. It’s the way equality has usually been achieved in this country and this battle will not be any different. Already lawyers for the opposition have announced they will petition the Supreme Court for appeal and this long, drawn-out battle will get even longer. Either way, the denial by the Ninth Circuit court is a major victory and one that could possibly lead to marriage equality for all 50 states.
As I mentioned in my article on President Obama’s support of marriage equality, there’s a lot of work to be done regarding outreach to the African-American community. Historically, African-Americans have supported gays in the military and openly gay political candidates, but they were slow to endorse same-sex marriage. Since Obama publicly supported same-sex marriage, we have witnessed one of the quickest turnarounds in public opinion. African-Americans are warming up to the idea of marriage equality and preachers are taking to the pulpit to support the president.
Entertainers and athletes alike are lending their support. Jay Z and Floyd Mayweather Jr. immediately announced they are in favor of marriage equality. This week, actress and singer, Queen Latifah, came out of the closet… and then went right back in… but more on that later. The point is, as more and more public figures lend their support for marriage equality, the easier it will be to obtain it. And that is good news.
With each benchmark achieved comes disappointment. A recent study was released from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs stating that 2011 marked one of the highest years on record for anti-LGBT violence. Every day, members of the community are being physically assaulted and thirty LGBT individuals were killed last year. The organization also reported that number could be higher because only a little more than half of all victims report the assaults to the police.
There has also been an increase of physical damage caused to LGBT-owned or friendly establishments. This past Sunday alone the gay bar Velvet Rope in Oak Park, Illinois, was destroyed in a fire. Police and firefighters became suspicious once they discovered anti-gay graffiti throughout the remains, and further investigation uncovered the back door was kicked in. Police and firefighters have not declared the fire an arson as of yet, but they are still investigating.
Incidents like these serve as a reminder of the steps we still have to take as a community. The assault and murder of innocence people, gay or straight, should not be tolerated. The destruction of small businesses serves no purpose and only hurts the entire economy of that community. As we move forward towards our goal of equality, we must remember that opponents will only fight harder and stoop to despicable levels, but we need to remain strong and continue to fight for what’s right and what’s necessary. It’s the only way we’ll win.