Forty six years ago the Stonewall Riots kick started the LGBT rights movement in the United States. This week, the Supreme Court stated that marriage equality was a constitutional right.
A lot of people have suffered and died in the United States fighting for queer rights and true equality. Obviously there are many things to still fight for to achieve equality and justice. But we need to celebrate this stepping stone. This needs to be celebrated, because now we know we can fight and win. It seemed almost strange, like a fluke in 2004 when marriage equality first passed in Massachusetts. There had decades of fighting and only one success in Massachusetts. I couldn’t image that in less than 15 years the Supreme Court would rule in favor of marriage equality. That the White House would shine rainbow colors in celebration and the Vice President of the United States would be running around with a rainbow flag.
It’s important to not be complacent in victory, but fueled and empowered to continue to fight for the rights of queer homeless youth and immigrants, trans rights, and anti discriminatory laws. We shouldn’t be cynical towards the marriage ruling because of the other issues, but we should use the force of the marriage equality movement to make our voices louder and to continue to push for queer rights.
Have a glass of wine, a cake, a parade. Let’s keep going.
Last week a teacher was fired from Holy Ghost Prep Catholic High School after maintaining a marriage license with his partner in New Jersey. Griffen had worked at the school for 12 years, teaching Spanish and French. In this time he had brought his partner to events, and had also had administrators over to their house as guests.
The administration stated that he broke his contract by obtaining the marriage license…. but they’ve known that he’s been gay for over 12 years? Now, it’s a Catholic school right? What should I really expect, especially a Catholic school run by a priest?
My mother voiced the need for Griffen to sue the school into submission. In theory yes, that would be fantastic. Luckily the tide has turned and our rights can be won in the court of law. But…in the great state of Pennsylvania ‘fire at will’ is the legal policy that rules the state. (I’m not going to go into private school issues…. that’s a whole other topic that I’ll try to tackle next week).
Obviously PA needs to get their shit together and get on the marriage equality and anti-discrimination bus. But the thing that I keep coming back to is that Griffen has taught their for 12 years….. 12 years…..
12 years of being who he is…. and THEN getting fired. When is it going to be completely safe to be 100% out 100% of the time? Will there ever be a time where true work safety and security can exist for LGBT+ folks? Will a sweeping nationwide anti-discrimination policy secure peace of mind in the workplace , or is the fear of a loop-hole always going to make us afraid of being out?
I know that Catholic / private institutions will always have some right to hire / fire outside the realms of decency, but there is still a glimmer of hope that I hold onto; I hope that one day I could work with a Catholic run organization (shelter, hospital, school etc.) and not have my organization be kicked to the curb if I’m outed to them.
Maybe its the few people in my 12 years of attending Catholic school (more on that next week) but I would love to believe that this case in Bensalem, PA will be one of the last of its kind. I hope that the growing push toward true social justice inside these school walls will one day change the administration and hierarchy of the church towards an age of tolerance, acceptance, equality.