TIME magazine has declared “Gay Marriage Already Won.” There are two covers to this weeks news magazine, both of them feature a pair of same-sex couples kissing. The cover story details America’s change in attitudes towards same sex marriage. So what do you think? Is the issue of gay marriage already won?
In some ways yes, in great and wonderful ways, yes. The groundswell of support for gay marriage has been astonishing. The Republican party – once vehemently opposed to gay marriage – is changing its position with each passing day. These are important, significant, and vital strides in the fight for equality. There is something discomforting, however, about declaring “Gay Marriage Already Won.” It reminds me of what happened after Barack Obama won the election in 2008, when people were proudly declaring that it was the end to racism.
We know that’s not true. Hatred is not rooted out over night or in a few weeks. Hatred and intolerance has a way of hiding itself inside a person, where it festers. With all the positive news of gay marriage this week, we've overlooked the continuing struggle that many gay and lesbian students face.
Student participants in a gay and lesbian club in California were harassed by California high school teachers and administrators. In New York, 90 percent of students regularly heard homophobic remarks. Twenty-nine percent of those students had been physically harassed. Those statistics hold true in Colorado. Where nearly all students had heard “gay” used in a negative way and where 5 in 10 students were subject to physical harassment because of their sexual orientation. In the state of Mississippi, we see these same anti-gay sentiments against students who are then subject to abuse and harassment by fellow students, teachers, and administrators.
When TIME declares,“Gay Marriage Already Won” there is a part of me that is happy. Happy that we appear to be moving in the right direction. There is no danger in expressing joy over the shifting dialogue around gay marriage, but there is a danger in forgetting about the individuals who must fight for acceptance every day. When every child, student, person is able to express themselves freely in the manner that best suits their own individual lifestyle, then we can declare this issue won. Until that day, we must remain vigilant and root out hate and intolerance wherever it hides.
As we continue to celebrate our march towards inclusivity, the below statistics serve as a reminder of the work we still have yet to do.
Images Courtesy of Human Rights Campaign