In 2004, newly elected mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom threw away his political future when he directed the county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to all couples, regardless of their genders. This kicked the fight for marriage equality into high gear and here we are, almost ten years later, and we are well on our way to universal marriage equality in this country. And that’s not acceptable. Or, rather, it’s not enough.
Imagine if, after gaining the right to vote in 1920, the women’s rights movement stopped and rested on their laurels? Women would still be denied birth control and the right to control their own body, they would not have access to the same educational opportunities, and they would receive far less compensation for the same job than would their male counterparts. If the African-American Civil Rights Movement had been satisfied with eliminating slavery, we would still have the concept of “separate but equal”, with segregated schools, bathrooms, and water fountains, African-Americans would still be forced to sit in the backs of buses, and they would not have the right to vote.
So while marriage equality is an absolute necessity and a great first step, it is simply not enough. We shouldn’t give everyone the right to marry and then head off into the sunset thinking all is right with the world. Not while there are still places where LGBT people cannot adopt children, when they can be discriminated against in the workplace, where they are beaten and killed just for walking down the street. Marriage equality is a good start, but it’s only a start.
Most of all, we must change people’s views on the matter. The best way to do that is to teach our children to treat all people equally and fairly, regardless of gender, orientation, or race. I have great hope that, someday, anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws will seem as unnecessary as laws limiting the amount of horse manure that can be left on city streets to piles six feet high. But we are not there yet and if we are satisfied with achieving marriage equality, we will never get there.
That’s why my kids know it’s not just about marriage, but about families and friends and being fair. The civil rights movement has had many faces and this is but one of them. Like the great Dr. King, I look forward to the day when all people are judged “by the content of their character.” I hope that, with their help, my kids will see that day.
This post is proud part of Blogging for LGBT Families Day.