Today is a good day! It is a day that has been a long time coming. It is a day many have fought tirelessly for; a day that some never dreamed would come in our lifetime; a day that innovative funders encouraged from the outset. Today, the Supreme Court has paved the way for full marriage equality in every corner of the United States.
I recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of my coming out: April 1995, the first time I told another person that I was gay. A teenager at the time, I assumed a happy future just wasn’t feasible for me. I couldn’t imagine a day like today would come in my lifetime. Now, 20 years later, so many more futures seem possible, for me and for all of us.
This broad decision declares unabashedly that “the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex,” making marriage equality a constitutional right. As Justice Kennedy wrote, “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a character protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”
Funders for LGBTQ Issues estimates that since 1989 funding for civil unions and marriage equality has surpassed $100 million.
From the foresight demonstrated by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation’s 1989 grant to the Domestic Partners Project, to the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund’s historic seed grant to Evan Wolfson that led to the creation of Freedom to Marry, to the critical support provided by Civil Marriage Collaborative’s grantmaking of nearly $20 million, I’ve been incredibly moved by the ways our members have led on this important issue.
While we celebrate today, we know that tomorrow there is more work to be done. Legal equality alone won’t translate into better lives for LGBTQ people. We as a community still have a number of challenges to overcome. We still have work to do to create a more equitable world and advance racial, economic, and gender justice. But today, we took a big step forward – and all of us at Funders for LGBTQ Issues couldn’t be happier for all the loving couples who can now have their commitment to one another recognized in every corner of this country.
For all of us at Funders for LGBTQ Issues, today is a great day, a reminder that change is can come faster than we think. So many possible futures lie before us. Let’s keep working together to make the best possible future a reality for all our communities.
Ben Francisco Maulbeck
President, Funders for LGBTQ Issues