What a week – marriage equality

By Julia Robins [caption id="attachment_6548" align="alignright" width="400"]map (1) Source: Freedom to Marry[/caption] This past week has been monumental for same-sex couples all across the country. On October 6, the Supreme Court denied petitions in all of the cases challenging bans on marriage, and as a result, same-sex couples in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin all gained the right to marry. That decision also means that all other states under the jurisdiction of the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits are bound by the same ruling, meaning that the freedom to marry has also arrived in Colorado, North Carolina, and West Virginia, and will hopefully soon be a reality in Kansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming.    Also, last week, the 9th Circuit ruled the marriage ban unconstitutional, bringing the freedom to marry to Nevada, Alaska, and Idaho and paving the way for the same for Arizona and Montana. Whew! What a list! Virginia now proudly stands among the ranks of 30 states and the District of Columbia  (hopefully soon to be even more) that have gained the freedom to marry. That’s more than half of the country!  According to the Freedom to Marry, more than 64 percent of the U.S. population will soon live in a state with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples! We agree with Governor Terry McAuliffe that this is a historic and long-overdue moment for our commonwealth and our country. Thousands of Virginian lesbian and gay couples can now celebrate the recognition of their love by the Commonwealth and can rest a little easier knowing that their families have gained a level of security and protection that only marriage can offer.  Parents can legally adopt the children they have been raising for years, people will now have access to their spouse’s medical benefits, and married couples can finally file their taxes jointly this coming tax season. After learning that marriage equality has indeed arrived in Virginia, ecstatic couples posted to Equality Virginia’s Facebook page with photos from their ceremonies and heartwarming testimonials: “I am in tears knowing all people can marry in Virginia,” wrote Sharon. “It’s about time.” Even as we celebrate this historic moment that we have all worked so hard for, we are laying out our plan for General Assembly, where the Family Foundation has already said that they will work to ensure that "the rights and freedoms of those who disagree with the redefinition of marriage are treated equally and are not discriminated against in their religious practice, education, business, or employment."  In other words, we still have an uphill climb to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families are not discriminated against as we go about our daily lives.  This taste of equality is sweet, but we cannot afford to pause in our struggle to end discrimination. Working together we will end workplace and housing discrimination,  ensure that LGBT individuals can no longer be discriminated against or turned away as they conduct business in Virginia, and continue the  fight for transgender equality. Just last week, more than 200 people from across the state attended our first ever state-wide Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit.  Working together, we will achieve true equality in the commonwealth  If you have it in your budget, please consider making a donation to Equality Virginia as we continue to fight for the rights of LGBT Virginians.  Stay involved! Learn more about Equality Virginia's work by signing up to receive our emails!  Another great way to stay in touch is by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.