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Beyond the Fight for Marriage Equality

Beyond the Fight for Marriage Equality

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal…for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition.” – Justice Robert Kennedy, Majority Opinion in U.S. v. Windsor

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in this landmark case, declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act – which defined a spouse as someone of the opposite sex and marriage as a union between one man and one woman – unconstitutional. Following this decision, there was a surge in the fight for marriage equality all over the country.  There are currently 19 states along with the District of Columbia that have removed bans on same-sex marriage.  Recently, states have been overturning bans on same-sex marriage every other week.  It seems that the movement for marriage equality and LGBT rights is at its highest and most successful point.  But it’s not.

With states removing their bans so quickly, many people believe that this country has almost, if not already, won the fight for marriage equality; however, marriage equality is just one of many issues that the LGBT community continually faces.  Only 21 states have laws that prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and only 18 on gender identity.  Transgender people all around the country do not have full access to proper healthcare.  Very few states allow same-sex couples to adopt children from the overwhelmed foster system. The LGBT movement cannot push these and various other issues to the wayside.

To win the fights that the LGBT community still faces, we must not lose the momentum that exists alongside the fight formarriage equality.  The federal system should be the example for the states. Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.

Our tradition demands, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18). At the simplest level, this text demonstrates the need for equality. This is one of the first basic texts that we learn as children and one that is reiterated consistently throughout our Jewish adult life.  Discrimination of any sort is in complete conflict with this text.  As Jews, and as moral human beings, must fight for equality on all fronts; we are fighting for so much more than marriage equality, we are fighting for total equality because we are Jews, and above all, we are humans and everyone deserves to be treated as

Aliya Levinstein is a rising junior at American University studying interdisciplinary studies of communications, legal studies, economics, and government; with a double major in justice.  She is originally from Newburgh, NY and was a member at Temple Beth Jacob.  Through Machon Kaplan, Aliya is interning at Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG National.

Published: 8/14/2014

Categories: Social Justice