Marriage equality is a reality in the US, and it seems all 50 states are now complying with the ruling the Supreme Court issued last week.
But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking this debate is over.
Social conservatives are still hellbent on ensuring couples in same-sex relationships won’t receive marriage benefits.
Now that they’ve achieved equality, those who oppose these new recognitions will do their best to take marriage away from gay and lesbian couples, even if it means going through a lengthy process to do so.
Here are three ways conservatives are aiming to do away with marriage equality:
Conservatives aim to pass a Constitutional Amendment limiting marriage equality.
The marriage amendment would basically stipulate that states would have the right to deny marriage benefits to whomever they deemed unfit to have them.
It’s a proposal that was immediately promoted by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a yet-undeclared Republican candidate for president.
Immediately following the ruling by the Supreme Court, Walker called the 5-4 decision a “grave mistake” on Twitter. He had more to say in a separate statement:
"As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the US Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage."
Passing a new amendment for the Constitution would be an arduous task, one that probably wouldn’t be likely to happen, given the number of Americans who now support marriage equality.
There are two ways to pass an amendment to the Constitution. The first way requires two-thirds of Congress to approve the text of the proposed amendment, after which it is submitted to the states for ratification.
Three-fourths of states must ratify in order to pass.
The second method (which, coincidentally has never been utilized) requires two-thirds of the states’ legislatures to pass a proposal to amend the constitution, after which three-fourths of the states must then approve.
It would be a mostly uphill battle to say the least.
Even if American public sentiment supported the amendment (which it undoubtedly doesn’t), it would take several years -- and countltess marriages performed -- before it would be in effect.
Smaller challenges and acts of “civil disobedience” are taking place.
In states across the country, county clerks have embraced the new marriage protections for same-sex couples.
In other areas, however, the changes have been less than welcoming.
Some clerks have chosen to resign from their position rather than grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
Others are taking a more childish route; they simply refuse to issue the licenses at all, to both same-sex couples and straight couples.
Some lawmakers are even getting in on the act, encouraging open disobedience, in spite of the Supreme Court decision.
Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert (R) has thrown his support behind refusing to serve law-abiding Americans their deserved marriage licenses:
"I encourage all political leaders of Arkansas and leaders in the faith community to rally around County Clerks who choose to refuse to comply with an unjust ruling that violates religious freedom and states rights."
In other words, conservatives are encouraging people in government offices to openly defy a Supreme Court mandate in order to push their own religious agenda.
New Supreme Court justices could result in restrictions on marriage equality.
These acts of civil disobedience are likely to result in court cases of their own in the years ahead.
And, if new Supreme Court justices are put in place of some who are planning to retire, it could mean narrower rulings on marriage equality could diminish its significance.
Which is why the 2016 presidential race is still important in terms of marriage equality.
If three justices resign (and that may happen, given their ages and time on the Court), three new justices appointed by the winner of the 2016 election for president could tip the scales against marriage equality proponents.
A lawsuit alleging county clerks have a right to deny licenses based off of their own religious beliefs could reach the Court at that time.
If a conservative president is elected, the justices he or she appoints could very well rule in favor of allowing clerks the right to refuse serving marriage licenses, based on those preferences.
These small acts of “civil disobedience,” as narrow-minded as they seem, could allow conservative justices the opportunity to slash newly-gained marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
The fight for equality needs to continue, in marriage and elsewhere.
These actions aren’t unexpected. They were discussed well before the ruling from the Supreme Court came down.
Still, they’re indicative of how much further the equality movement in the LGBTQ+ community must go in the years to follow.
Marriage will still be attacked by social conservatives, and where those attacks occur, they need to be met head on by proponents of love.
Dog whistle terms like “religious liberty” need to be recognized for what they are: covert actions meant to stall or impede the marriage equality ruling.
Beyond marriage, however, gay and lesbian households need to press on for equality in different arenas.
In many states, you can be fired simply for being gay, and adoption rules also limit the ability for same-sex households to put children into good homes.
These laws also need to be challenged, in the court of law and in the court of public opinion, and where they’re able to be changed legislatively, that needs to happen also.
This ruling has upset a lot of people. That’s fine; those who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds have a right to hold that opinion, and their churches are certainly free to discriminate on that basis as well.
But, the Supreme Court has stated, unequivocally, it does not have a right to stifle same-sex couples' pursuit of happiness. If they want to be married in the eyes of the law, they are free to do so.
Love has won this past week, and it will continue to win in the years ahead if we choose to keep fighting on.