Op-ed: Building a World We'd Actually Want to Live In

By Rea Carey

Originally published on Advocate.com July 01 2013 5:00 AM ET

In the intense excitement, hope, and sense of possibility related to the Supreme Court marriage decisions as well as the acute sense of the hard work that still needs to be done, it’s important to note that there are other questions already being asked and conversations taking place in the LGBT community and the broader progressive movement.

Where do we go from here? What type of community do we want our families to thrive in? What kind of nation do we envision for the next generation? What type of world do we want to live in?

The answers to these questions can’t be left in the hands of fate. We as a movement must intensify our efforts to create change now to deliver full justice, a transformed society, and a better future.

Our destination is a country in which all LGBT people and their families experience full freedom, equality, and justice; it’s a place where every single one of us feels safe to express ourselves sexually, intellectually, and spiritually. It’s a society where LGBT people find support in their homes, places of worship, workplaces, and communities. And it’s a world where no one is devalued and no one is an afterthought.

All great journeys need a compass showing a true north. Ours must be love, commitment, and compassion.  But it must be an expansive love; a broad commitment to the many ways we create family and stronger communities; and a compassion that leads to the defense of those who are marginalized and left out the American family. 

If we are to be truly transformational as a movement, we must seize this moment of celebration and use it to shine the spotlight on the many injustices and inequalities experienced by LGBT people.

Each of us in the wider progressive movement will have a different way of knowing that we have reached each stage of the journey toward full freedom, equality, and justice.

For the lesbian college student in Nebraska, approaching full equality may mean that she can kiss her lover fearlessly on any street in the state and feel the full measure of acceptance and protection afforded her heterosexual counterparts.

For the union leader in Michigan, an indicator that we are getting there might be a world where good jobs and decent benefits are the norm.

For the single mom from Montana, it might be a nation where women are actually paid the same as men for equal work.

For the millions of young women and men across the country — including LGBT people — full freedom may mean that a state legislator in Texas doesn’t have to stand and filibuster for 11 hours straight to protect the right to reproductive health.

And for the black trans woman in Georgia — a first-time voter — full justice might mean not being turned away at the polling station because of the gender marker on her ID card or the color of her skin.

Every victory we achieve makes clearer the inequalities that remain. As we build a powerful coalition for a better world, now is the time to take action on a range of issues that will transform our society and ensure that America reaches her full potential.

Many items remain on our to-do list, and here are just a few:

President Obama must issue an executive order that bans discrimination against LGBT people working for federal contractors, thereby immediately improving the lives of millions of people across the country.

Defense secretary Hagel should finally bury "don’t ask, don’t tell" by allowing transgender people to serve openly.

Congress needs to pass legislation that bans discrimination against LGBT employees. And as we get tantalizingly close to comprehensive and inclusive immigration reform, Congress also needs to provide a path to citizenship to the over 11 million undocumented immigrants, including the 268,000 LGBT immigrants.

We each have a to-do list and we each must, together, pursue our dreams for an equal America and a just society.

We know where we are going. We have a long way to go. And we can arrive there all the more quickly if we continue to stand together — united in love and committed to the cause of justice.

REA CAREY is the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.