Last week was an unforgettable moment for our movement, our country, and the pursuit of justice. We witnessed history – history made possible by the blood, sweat, tears and defiance of so many who came before us and so many who still struggle today. Let’s never forget our brothers and sisters who lived, fought and died courageously in the name of love.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, allowing married same-sex couples in Washington, D.C., and in 12 states to marry with full legal recognition from their state and federal governments.
Additionally, as a result of the court’s ruling on Proposition 8, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) ordered local officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy killed a last-ditch attempt by proponents of Proposition 8 to block same-sex marriage from resuming in California, signaling the end of the road for anti-equality foes in the state.
Now thousands of married same-sex couples can no longer be denied Social Security benefits, tax benefits and military marriage benefits. This even opens the door for married same-sex binational couples to apply for legal immigration status in the United States. And let’s not forget another victory in the beautiful display of democracy we witnessed in Texas last week, as women’s rights prevailed because Wendy Davis, Democrats and an army of supporters simply would not accept defeat. Real lives are improving because of the work we have all done as a movement.
While we all should rightfully celebrate these victories, let’s prepare to use them to re-energize our movement and to remind us of the victories we have yet to achieve. Because, despite these landmark decisions, we suffered blows at the hands of the Supreme Court just days ago when it gutted the Voting Rights Act. We also found ourselves in the midst of a fight for commonsense immigration reform where, unfortunately, some in our own party are willing to militarize our borders and criminalize our immigrant brothers and sisters for a legislative win. Not to mention, while many now have full marriage recognition, it is still a dream in 37 states, and Americans can still lose their jobs because of who they are or who they love.
Let’s view these victories for what they are: a call to action. Remember that we’re not just aiming for legislative victories to add to our tally. We seek true progress toward justice without compromise. This means we need to keep fighting to elect truly progressive candidates, who not only understand the struggles of our community in theory, but can govern with firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be in our shoes. This means we need to elevate each other and encourage those organizers and advocates worthy of public trust to run grassroots campaigns for office to build power. In this way, we can build a society truly governed by the people, for the people.
If the past week has taught us anything, it’s that the journey for progress is winding and often twisted, but it inexorably moves forward, toward justice. Let’s keep organizing in D.C. government, on Capitol Hill and in all the places we come from.
Angela Peoples is the vice president for political and legislative affairs of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.