Three Reasons Why the Fight for Equality Isn’t About Marriage

Rev. Paul M. Turner

Now that the rush of excitement is over and we’ve digested the Supreme Court commentary and maybe even listened to all or part of Question 1 or Question 2, all we can do is wait for the Court to… er, validate our lives.

And while we’re waiting, I’d like to make another case: The case for actual equality. Here’s why:

  • LGBT people can still be fired or denied housing or public accommodations for no other reason than the simple fact of who we are in just about as many states as same-gender couples can now get legally married.
  • Transgender people worldwide are regularly shot, stabbed, beaten, burned, mutilated, tortured, strangled, hanged or stoned — generally to death — simply for being who they are. It’s why the single biggest transgender-focused event in any community is a day of remembrance to honor those who have suffered in the last 365 days.
  • About 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT. LGB youth are also 4 times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers — and this is in a context where suicide is already the second leading cause of death among young people age 10-24.

And this is to say nothing of adoption rights, wage gaps, transgender underemployment and unemployment… you get the picture.

My point being that, while it will be thrilling to see same-gender love advance from second-class status in America, it’s important for us — and for our allies and observers — to understand that the fight for marriage equality in many ways happened on its own timetable thanks to the courts. So if there is a Big Gay Agenda, it’s not exactly a to-do list and marriage is now at the top.

In fact, the actual Big Gay Agenda is probably not much of a list at all, because it really only has one thing on it: Equality. True equality. The kind that results in less discrimination, violence, despair, scapegoating and loss. Because when we are truly equal, more of us are able to rise up to contribute to our world in all the big and small ways that make everyone richer.

Maybe it would be better for everyone to see equality as the hub of a mighty big wheel we’re all trying to build in order for LGBT people to live with dignity. Marriage equality is just one of an awful lot of spokes that still need to be built if that wheel is going to support all of us. We need marriage equality, but it’s just the latest sprint in a very long and important marathon.

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