Marriage equality is now the law of the land in the USA. I have to admit it is a bit surreal to even write that statement. Over the past few years I have regularly turned to the Human Rights Campaign website for updates about legal battles regarding same-sex marriage, as it has been challenging to keep track of court cases in each state. They have an interactive map that allows one to easily select a state to find more information about the specific laws that apply, using a helpful color-coded scheme.
Red: marriage-related ballot measure
Yellow: authorizes same-sex marriage
Blue: prohibits same-sex marriage
Grey: does not authorize or prohibit same-sex marriage.
I checked the website yesterday and saw that the entire map was yellow.
My eyes filled with tears. Of course I knew about the Supreme Court decision and cognitively understood its implications, but there was something so powerful about seeing it visually. The United States, united by marriage equality.
It really is a day that many people doubted would ever come.
For many years I have worked in agencies dedicated to sexual violence prevention and treatment. While I was in graduate school, I was a victim advocate and therapist at the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. I am currently a member of the board of directors for Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) and have worked on sexual violence prevention and treatment on a number of college campuses. I have often told people that the main goal of these organizations is to work themselves out of a job. PAAR’s mission is to Respond, Educate, and Advocate to End Sexual Violence. I wholeheartedly believe it is possible to eradicate sexual violence. But I am doubtful that will happen in my lifetime. So I continue to contribute to prevention and treatment work, helping the organization plan for the future.
What would happen if the day came that such services were no longer needed?
I can only imagine what it is like for the employees of organizations who have dedicated their hearts and souls to fight for marriage equality. Of course they are wondering what is next for them. Numerous non-profit organizations are debating if they should close their doors now that marriage equality has been achieved. There is no doubt that legal challenges remain for the LGBTQ population and that the culture war against homophobia is far from over.
Change can be scary, but it can also be good. Yes, there is more work to be done.
Let us not forget the amazing victory that has been achieved. Let us not get lost in our future-oriented approach to life and neglect to celebrate, revel, and soak up the justice!
Let our joy feed our souls and keep this movement moving!
Britney G Brinkman, Ph.D.
EMPOWERTAINMENT aims to take a critical look at media in regards to how gender and women/girls are portrayed. From popular articles, videos, and websites, to original submissions, we want to not only examine the media and its relation to gender, but help shift it.