After Marriage Equality, What Will We Create Next?

Cracked egg shell leaking a colorful, rainbow like liquid to simbolize creativity
Cracked egg shell leaking a colorful, rainbow like liquid to simbolize creativity

After Obergefell v. Hodges, the first decision from the Supreme Court of the United States that broadly affirms the lives of lesbian and gay people and provides us with vital recognition for our intimate relationships, many national organizations and leaders quickly pivoted from marriage equality to workplace and public accommodation protections. The stark reality that a gay or lesbian person could marry in the morning, be fired in the afternoon and evicted from an apartment or restaurant in the evening, echoed across my screen as people shared these messages on social media.

I support federal legislation to protect LGBT people at work and in public, of course, and I recognize how crucial federal legislation is for people who do not live in states or cities that already provide these protections. At the same time, I want time to take a deep breath and savor marriage equality before moving to the next national issue.

The struggle to recognize loving, committed relationships of same-sex partners has been a long struggle. While Justice Scalia's words in the Lawrence v. Texas dissent in 2003 portended this victory in 2015, gay men and lesbians have been talking about relationship recognition for decades. Before Genora Dancel and Ninia Baehr in Hawaii, there was Jack Baker and Michael McConnell in Minnesota; before them, there were discussions about marriage in The Ladder and One Magazine, and before that, there were other gay men and lesbians thinking about how their relationships could be recognized in the worlds where they lived. Lesbians and gay men have imagined the day when they could be fully, completely, and legally married for a long time--decades, even centuries. Savoring the decision honors the work and dreams of those who came before us.

Savoring the decision also gives us space and time to recognize the importance of imagination and creativity in our movements for social change. How do we create and promote communities that value imagination and creativity? How do we nurture the minds and spirits of people who help us imagine a different world and defy the conventions of the day to envision this new world and take steps to create it? How do we affirm the significance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender creative production? In particular, how do we carve out space for queer creativity amid increasing mainstreaming of LGBT people and identities? Thinking about and answering these questions is as urgent as workplace and public accommodation protections. Without imagination and creativity, our community cannot envision the changes we want to see. From our creativity, from our imagination, come the visions of the worlds we might create.

Imagination transforms worlds. Nurturing imagination and creativity is crucial. What can we do to nurture LGBTQ imaginations? How can we envision worlds where LGBTQ people can live and thrive? Considering these questions and answering these questions are an important part of our political worlds today. The imagination of a world transformed, the imagination of a world with marriage equality helped to create the world that we have today. How can we ensure that imagination and creativity are a part of the forefront of LGBTQ communities as we move forward?

Yes, attorneys and legal strategists were crucial to marriage equality. Yes, we need political strategies to win new federal, state, and local victories that make the daily lives of lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and transgender people better. We also need transformative imaginative capacities in our community. I want to hold space for creativity and imagination in our new world where organizations and individuals reorganize their priorities after marriage equality.

My greatest hope is that new resources will flow to organizations that build and celebrate LGBT culture in the aftermath of marriage equality. Tending to our culture, building on the rich and vibrant cultural tradition of LGBTQ communities, promoting queer creativity and imagination is for me an opportunity for LGBTQ people in this new world of marriage equality.