We've Laid the Foundation for Equality: Here's What's Next

The Supreme Court's decision granting all Americans the freedom to marry instantly made me think fondly back to the day I wed, which was one of the happiest days of my life and incredibly meaningful to my daughter and our family. Now, young people like her -- especially lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth -- will grow up in a country where they can marry the person they love and where they are equal under the law -- something so many of us never dreamed possible in our lifetimes.

As the Executive Director of Equality Federation, the strategic partner to the state-based equality movement, I am humbled by my role in the decades long struggle to push love to the forefront and win equality, one step at a time. But, we are not done.

The ruling solidified the foundation: now we have to build the house.

More heavy lifting is needed to achieve our vision of a world free of all forms of discrimination: a world without racism; a world without violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people; a world where everyone has the health care they need; and a world where all of us are able to live without the fear of being fired from our jobs or kicked out of our homes simply for being who we are.

As the LGBT movement charts its path forward, we should reflect on how we got here. The pathway to this historic victory felt long and arduous, but in the arc of history was quite short. We learned and adapted quickly as the public began to support our families.

Equality Federation was formed to partner with the state-based equality organizations. So much of the national progress we see today began with efforts at the local and state level. Examples abound. MassEquality became the first organization to lead an effort that resulted in a super-majority of state legislators supporting the freedom to marry. Equality Maryland made history when they led a successful campaign to win marriage equality at the ballot box. Equality California showed great courage in the Proposition 8 battle, and the many lessons learned from that valiant effort continue to inform our work.

State-based equality groups throughout the country worked tirelessly -- amplifying the heartwarming stories of couples, lobbying legislatures and so much more -- alongside the legal teams who fought marriage bans in the courts and brought down the Defense of Marriage Act. Our community owes enormous gratitude to all these organizations and, of course, the thousands of people who participated in the lawsuits, campaigns, lobbying, canvassing and storytelling.

We also honor all of the couples and families who simply lived their lives openly and authentically day in and day out, even when it was uncomfortable or dangerous. There are insights to be gleaned from the aunt who held signs at her local farmer's market or the college student who collected signatures on campus.

In order to harness the momentum of this great win, it will be important to remember that equality is not achieved by relying solely on one person, organization or strategy. We found success by collaborating and sharing lessons learned in unprecedented ways, and that is what we must continue to do in order to ensure all Americans are protected from discrimination.

In the coming months, Equality Federation will continue working with our partners in the state-based equality movement -- with even more vigor -- to pass over 30 statewide nondiscrimination laws to include protections for LGBT people, and to struggle against racism, violence and injustice.

As during the early days of the marriage movement, many people are already doing their part. People have been sharing their stories of being fired from their jobs and kicked out of their homes simply for being who they are. Leaders in towns big and small are passing nondiscrimination ordinances. Now is not the time to rest -- coming off of the marriage victory -- we need to push forward so that no one is left behind.