It is thrilling news when the ACLU and Lambda Legal announce that they will be suing Virginia to reverse the provisions of state law and constitution which prohibit legal marriage except between a man and a woman.
THRILLING!!!!! OVER. THE. TOP.
Makes my heart pump a lot faster, and my feet move into a jig of joy.
But of course the work is not done. First, of course, while their logic seems irrefutable to me–equal protection is equal protection–there is no certainty about how various courts who weigh in on this will ultimately rule. Lawyers and judges, as we know, can contort themselves into many tort-ured shapes and outcomes (the hyphen is deliberate).
But even if the case or cases go right to the top, winning each step of the way and the Supremes in Washington wave their collective wand and make all the old, bad rules go away, the work will not be done.
Just ask women who are still working to break through glass ceilings (pay discrimination is illegal you know) or African Americans who get guided away from certain neighborhoods (housing discrimination is illegal, too) or others who are having a hard time casting their ballots (denying folks the right to vote is unconstitutional).
Changing laws is essential. But we need social, culture, and religious change as well.
That takes work. Attorneys play a big role in this–just ask our friend Claire Guthrie-Gastanaga at the ACLU who has been at it a long time–but they can’t do it alone.
It takes the rest of us. Agitating. Praying. Speaking up. Marching. Coming out (in whatever way we can to help the cause).
Indeed, it takes all of us.
The great sociologist Margaret Mead famously said, “”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
She’s right, of course. But there is more to than that.
A bunch of small groups pulling together in the same direction–making a large movement–can do even more.
It’s time we take Virginia back. The folks who keep dividing folks and judging and holding some down while they raise others (and themselves) up have been in charge long enough.
Go ACLU and Lambda friends! We’re with you, we’re right behind you, and we’re going to keep on keeping on until not only the laws but the entire Commonwealth of Virginia is changed.