by Dan Savage
on Tue, Feb 7, 2012 at 1:42 PM
The decision in California today is heartening—even if no same-sex couples will be getting married in California anytime soon, even if the ruling is so narrowly worded that it applies only to same-sex couples in California. But, hey, let's celebrate! I'm at the airport in Dallas, where I'm enjoying a celebratory Patrone margarita with salt and extra salt. This drink tastes like my husband looks in a Speedo. So, hey, let's hear it for 9th Circuits and good tequila and husbands and Speedos and husbands who look good in Speedos! (I have one of those; Terry, sadly, does not.)
The haters, of course, announced in advance that they would appeal a favorable-to-justice-and-equality decision. Because they hate. They're going to appeal this ruling to the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, if justice and equality gets a favorable ruling from the full 9th Circuit, they're going to appeal this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And when it gets to the Supreme Court we're probably going to...
Well, before we talk about that—before we waste our precious minds thinking about Antonin and Sam and Clarence and John weighing in on our civil equality—let's just take a second to bask in the meaning of this decision. Equality, justice, fairness. All that. But for me the most profound meaning in today's ruling—it's single biggest takeaway—is this: no single victory for the haters, no "successful" effort to write bigotry into any single state's constitution, will end the fight for marriage equality or the fight for the full civil equality of LGBT people. (Gotta do something about that trans-exclusive DADT repeal; gotta pass ENDA; gotta pass Al Franken's Student Non-Discrimination Act.) They might win one—they might win again and again—but the fight for our full civil equality isn't over until we say it's over.
And it's not over until we win.
The fight for marriage equality wasn't over in California when they passed Prop 8. The fight for marriage equality wasn't over in Washington state when our Supreme Court handed down an appalling bigoted decision upholding our state's ban on same-sex marriage. It wasn't over in New York state after that state's highest court handed down a similarly bigoted decision. The fight to allow gay people to serve openly in the military wasn't over when DADT passed. The fight against sodomy laws wasn't over when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that gay people did not have a constitutional right to privacy and could be arrested in their bedrooms for engaging in private, consensual, adult sexual conduct. We kept fighting, we kept suing, we kept organizing, we kept counting votes, we kept raising money, we screaming and yelling and protesting because...
It isn't over until we say it's over and it's not over until we win.
I fully expect that when marriage equality comes before the United States Supreme Court... we could lose. Don't get me wrong: I hope to God that we win; I hope that Anthony Kennedy sides with the court's liberal minority and with himself. But remember: even if we lose the first marriage equality case that comes up before the Supreme Court, it isn't over. Not over. Until. We win. Yes, we lost Bowers v. Hardwick in '86; I'm old enough to remember where I was when that hugely bigoted decision came down and how depressing that loss was: I was at a Kentucky Shakespeare Festival rehearsal for Comedy of Errors in Louisville, Kentucky, with a bunch of theater people—gay and straight—and we were disfuckingtraught. But we didn't give up. We didn't give up after Bowers v. Hardwick the same way we didn't give up after Prop 8. And ten years after Bowers v. Hardwick? We won Lawrence v. Texas: in 2003 the Supreme Court ruled that—whodathunkit!—gay people did have a right to privacy, just like straight people do, and the court struck down anti-gay and anti-straight sodomy laws in 13 states. And today, less than a decade after after Lawrence v. Texas, a state ban on consensual gay and/or straight sodomy is inconceivable—well, inconceivable to all except Rick Santorum. (Santorum would love his gay son, says Rick, but Santorum would also like to see his gay son arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned.)
So, yeah, we might lose the first time marriage equality comes up before the Supreme Court—just like we lost the first time sodomy came up before the Supreme Court. But we can't let that loss, if we lose, fill us with despair. I'm confident we won't let that loss fill us with despair because we never have allowed a loss to fill us with despair. We have always kept fighting.
Because it's not over until we say it's over and, goddammit, it's not over until we win.
Doors closing! Gotta run—sorry in advance for any haste and/or margarita-induced typos.