By: Lisa Regula Meyer
Recently, Alan Chambers, the president of influential Exodus International came out and admitted that he was wrong and apologized for the damage he and his group have done to the larger community. Exodus was one of the groups that has been based on the idea of helping people (specifically non-straight) change their sexual orientation through religious conviction- the infamous “pray away the gay” programs. Chambers even went a step further and has vowed to shut down his own organization.
This comes on the heels of a handful of Republican legislators throwing their support behind marriage equality, and while we wait to hear a decision on two marriage equality cases currently before the Supreme Court.
It’s possible that I’m being overly optimistic, but the prospects for changing the course of history feels very real right now. I’m hopeful that these events are more indicators of growing public acceptance of the LGBTQ community and their right to the pursuit of happiness.
Obviously, there are still discriminatory laws on the books, and bigotry abounds, but most signs point to improved civil rights recognition and moving closer to full equality. It’s important to note that while the fight for marriage equality may be turning a critical corner soon, there are also other major battles that need to be fought and won as well, like ending housing and employment discrimination.
Marriage is just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s a big piece that provides protections not just for the married individuals, but for their children as well. Access to insurance, recognition of parental rights, availability of social supports like Social Security Survivor benefits, and lessened risk of deportation for a parent are all good things to come out of marriage equality. There’s also the very real tax benefits to married couples that provide additional discretionary income for those families.
It’s no wonder that so many resources- both financial and energetic- are spent trying to gain access to these benefits of marriage, although it does remove available resources for other facets of the equality fight as well.
I’m not going to lie, waiting for the SCOTUS decision this week has me excited and a little distracted. Here’s hoping for a ruling sooner this week rather than later, so I can get on with my to do list sooner, and so we can start working on those other issues of equality sooner. I am hoping that the summer of 2014 is going to be one filled with weddings.