Two years after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor, there has never been more to celebrate during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
Marriage equality now exists in D.C. and 37 states, including my home state of Florida. I was honored to be joined at the president’s State of the Union Address by one of the extraordinary newlywed couples, my constituents, who helped lead the fight to secure same-sex marriage in the Sunshine State. Later this month, it will be my distinct privilege to officiate my first wedding, and I am overjoyed to know that this same-sex couple can finally enjoy having their union recognized in the eyes of the law. To see the happiness of many more couples, or the beautiful children they’ve brought into the world or adopted, is a poignant reminder that love is love and that these fights make a real difference in people’s lives.
Under President Obama, we have put an end to the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented gay and lesbian Americans from freely and openly serving their country. Congressional Democrats have added LGBT protections to the Violence Against Women Act. And President Obama has signed an executive order to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity for federal contractors, extended key benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees and banned discrimination in federal workplaces based on gender identity.
The American public’s support for same-sex marriage now reaches 60 percent for the first time in history. And the referendum legalizing gay marriage in Ireland is a historic victory that should be celebrated all over the world.
Unfortunately, these fights are far from over. Recently, it was only after a strong national response that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was forced to backtrack on his state’s law that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. Many of the Republicans seeking their party’s presidential nomination sided with Gov. Pence instead of the LGBT community and the American people.
These Republican candidates want to take us backwards, undoing the progress we’ve fought so hard to secure. Jeb Bush has said that, “the institution of marriage is under attack in our society.” Marco Rubio said one would need to have a “ridiculous and absurd reading of the U.S. Constitution” to think same-sex couples have the right to marry. Rand Paul, the candidate who supposedly wants to broaden the GOP’s appeal and outreach to young voters, said that same-sex marriage “offends” him. Others, including Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, all oppose marriage equality.
There are many places around the world where people are still subjected to violence and discrimination based on who they are or who they love, particularly for the transgender community. Even here at home, we’ve failed to enact protections like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will issue a decision on whether same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide.
This June, as we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, the LGBT community and its allies are proud to look back on the victories we’ve achieved, and rededicate ourselves to the fights still ahead.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a member of Congress from South Florida and the chair of the Democratic National Committee.