In a dramatic success for the gay and lesbian communities, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex marriage is legal across the nation, making the United States the 20th country to enshrine marriage equality on the national level.
Some activists expressed surprise that the nation has come so far over the last several decades. Social views on equality have certainly evolved at a dramatic clip. Over the last 20 years, approval of same-sex marriage leapt from 27 percent to 60 percent.
There is still much work to be done, however, as campaigners for pro-LGBTQ organizations point out.
For example, LGBTQ individuals can still be fired or evicted from their homes in a majority of states in the absence of a federal law barring such discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Another pressing issue is gay conversion therapy – an unscientific and, what critics argue, cruel process that is supposed change an individual’s sexual orientation. A recent court in New Jersey found that the process constitutes consumer fraud, yet the practice continues across the country.
Health risks are also at the forefront of the conversation. In one poll, 41 percent of trans and gender non-conforming youth have attempted suicide. That compares to a 4.6 percent overall suicide rate in the United States. The Trevor Project – a nonprofit suicide prevention organizations geared toward LGBTQ youth – is working on this dire issue, but significant philanthropic work needs to be done in order to make a real impact.
These and other problems notwithstanding, the Supreme Court ruling reflects a monumental achievement for equality campaigners, and reflects a sea change in U.S. social views that is much more inclusive and fair to people of all genders and sexual orientations.