After a week of devastating news and social injustice in America, it comes as an ecstatic surprise that today the country took at least one giant step forward in one matter of equality. As you probably know by now, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court determined that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. And while inevitably this news came with its share of vehement, embittered ranting from the those who dissented, it was for so many a day of unbridled, cathartic joy and promise.
Sometimes it’s hard to fully comprehend the immensity of something like this until you, say, see one very small image. For me, it was Slate’s converted map infographic: formerly, the website would update the map every time legislation changed in a certain state surrounding gay marriage — and different colors represented the state of the legislation. Today, the whole map of the country flushed a single color. The website also published a series of select passages Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority decision. He potently stated:
Same-sex couples are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives. As the State itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects…It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality.
Among those rejoicing today were important, out queer cultural figures such as Ellen Page, Neil Patrick Harris and Dan Savage, as well as musicians like Madonna, Janelle Monae and Tyler, the Creator. Activists focusing on same-sex marriage got to acknowledge something rare for someone who fights for decades: that they won. Participants in groups like Freedom to Marry can move on to new causes, as the organization will now close within a few months (it’s one of the only instances where the shuttering of such an organization is actually the most positive possible thing). Hillary Clinton, who at least in recent years has been a firm supporter of gay marriage, tweeted, simply:
Obviously, the fight for acceptance does not by any means end at marriage. (And the institution of marriage itself is, indeed, an institution.) But in leveling one of the concrete institutional imbalances that excluded queer people from this particular expression of love, people finally can say (and are saying) that today was a victory for love itself. The ability to make such a bold statement is a sad rarity, and one that should be cherished.