Over the past several years, states opposing same-sex marriage have fallen like dominoes. One by one, states across the country erupted in celebration as state courts struck down the bans. However, there have been some hold-outs (Here’s looking at you, Ohio). On Friday morning, the United States Supreme court ruled that same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states.
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Other countries recently celebrated victories for the LGBTQ community. Last month, Ireland held a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage; citizens turned out in droves to cast their votes. In Mozambique, the government struck down laws that criminalized homosexuality. While the country’s sole gay rights group, Lambda, views the ruling as a victory, there is little faith that it will make a tangible impact on daily life for LGBTQ people.
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But for every celebratory parade, reminders of the work that remains reared their heads. In Istanbul, Turkey, riot police broke up pride parades with tear gas and rubber bullets. The government declared that the LGBTQ community did not have permission to hold the parade, an event that has occurred on the same weekend in June for the past 13 years, because it coincides with the holy month of Ramadan.
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While people across the United States used Facebook’s rainbow profile picture feature, many in Russia and countries across the Middle East were not amused. Russia recently passed staunch anti-gay laws, forcing people with the means to do so to seek asylum. According to a recent poll, 80% of Russians oppose gay marriage; in response to the Facebook rainbow, some Russians overlaid national flags on their pictures and tagged them with the hashtag #ProudToBeRussian.
Although same sex-marriage is now legal in the United States, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender remains poorly defined and policed. Same-sex couples can be denied housing and jobs based on a landlord’s or hiring manager’s own preference. In 2014, California banned the “gay panic defense,” but other states consider it an acceptable excuse for unwarranted violence against LGBTQ people. The very fact that these defenses gain traction illustrates how, in parts of the country, members of the LGBTQ community must still fight for their right to live. So while this landmark victory deserves celebration, let’s not forget that there’s still much work to do.