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Marriage Equality

WATCH: Now's the Time to Defend the Marriage Victory

WATCH: Now's the Time to Defend the Marriage Victory


By all means, let's celebrate this milestone achievement. But don't think for a second that the work is done.

Don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't be celebrating right now. After all, we've been waiting decades for Friday's victory: the Supreme Court has affirmed that the U.S. Constitution protects marriage equality for everyone.

So what happens now? For many parts of the country, smooth sailing. Couples have been getting licenses and receiving equal treatment from coast to coast for many years, and that will continue.

But there are some pockets of resistance where the lingering opponents of equality will do everything they can to block marriage. For example, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that clerks may be able to turn same-sex couples away. He also noted that clerks will open themselves up to possible litigation if they refuse LGBT couples. Essentially, he's inviting clerks to prompt a lawsuit so that his office can step in and fight for their right to discriminate.

Conflicts like that will probably keep popping up, at least for a while. Missouri's looking at getting out of the marriage business altogether. North Carolina just passed a bill that lets officials refuse to issue licenses to all couples -- gay and straight. Florida clerks have done the same, without waiting for a law making it legal for them to do so. The Constitution may guarantee equal protection, but we'll still have to fight for that protection being recognized across the whole country.

The conflict is essentially a throwback to the 1950s, when the Supreme Court ordered an end to segregated schools. Some places just closed their schools altogether, rather than integrate them. Kids literally had nowhere to go, because officials preferred to deprive everyone of their rights rather than extend those rights to a minority.

But that tactic didn't last. With integration, as with marriage, the Supreme Court's orders were very clear, and civil rights groups fought to have the schools re-opened so the long hard work of integration could move ahead. Over time, the same thing will happen with marriage, but it won't happen by itself. We got the victory -- now citizens and civil rights groups will need to defend it.

But it's also important that we take a moment to step back, reflect, celebrate, and thank the millions of people who helped make history. This win is thanks in large part to pioneers who stood up for equality in the '70s, leaders like Andrew Sullivan and Evan Wolfson who expanded the conversation in the '80s, organizations like Lambda Legal and GLAD that fought for equality in the '90s, and the growing chorus of voices from the ACLU to NCLR to AFER and HRC in the 2000s. But of course it's not just organizations that made this happen. Whether you marched in a parade, or held a sign, or talked to your family about why marriage matters, this win is also thanks to you.

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Matt Baume