As I stand here, looking out over this amazing gathering of people, I can’t help but notice and feel one thing: love. Throughout our lifetimes, we have born witness to that one thing – love – as something celebrated only for the few.
Today is a momentous day for this country. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States made clear to all that marriage discrimination is behind us. Today, the Court has said that all of the men and women in this country are entitled to the dignity and respect they deserve. Today, the doors to, as Justice Kennedy wrote, “love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family” have been opened for countless thousands of individuals. Today, the Court has ruled in favor of that one thing so present amongst the crowd here today: love. No longer should marriage be defined only as that “union between man and woman.” Marriage should now be defined as it always should have been: that union between two individuals that love each other with all of their being. Today, love won.
And yet, we still wait in Louisiana. While same-sex couples are marrying in other states as I speak, Louisiana continues to hold on to its discriminatory past. It is not yet possible for same-sex couples to reap the full benefit of this decision. However, rest assured that the past to which Louisiana so desperately clings will come to an end, and that the Louisiana of tomorrow will belong to all of us.
I’d like to take a moment to thank some of those people that were courageous enough to fight for marriage equality in this state:
- The Lambda Legal team of Kenneth Upton, Susan Sommer, Camilla Taylor, Karen Loewy, Paul Castillo and Omar Gonzalez-Pagan.
- Dalton Courson, Lesli D. Harris, John Landis, Brooke Tigchelaar and Maurine Wall of the New Orleans firm Stone Pigman Walther Whittmann.
- The Forum for Equality plaintiffs – Jacqueline and Lauren Brettner, Henry Lambert and Carey Bond, Andrew Bond and Nicholas Van Sickels of New Orleans and L. Havard Scott III and Sergio March Prieto.
- As well as plaintiffs, Jonathan Robicheaux and Derek Penton and Courtney and Nadine Blanchard who were represented by attorney Richard G. Perque);
- And Robert Welles and Garth Beauregard, represented by attorney Scott J. Spivey.
Today is a day of celebration. It is a day to celebrate our freedoms and our right to that one thing visible throughout this crowd: love. Today must also be a day of remembrance. Today we must also remember those other groups that suffer in the face of discrimination and hate. For those lives taken in the name of hatred in South Carolina, France, Tunisia, and Kuwait, and for our LGBT brothers and sisters who could not be with us today, I ask for a brief moment of silence.
We must realize that our fight against bigotry is not over! In the majority of this country, including Louisiana, while a same-sex couple could marry on a Friday, they can be fired on Monday – simply because of who they love. While we celebrate this incredible move forward, I call on each and every one of you to join the Forum for Equality and our allies the ACLU, HRC and PFLAG, in our continued fight to end all discrimination against the LGBT community: to end discrimination in housing; to end discrimination in education; to end discrimination in employment. To end discrimination period!
It is true that today, we found marriage. But I say to you now that tomorrow, we seek more!
Thank you all! I love you!
Sarah Jane Brady
Forum for Equality Executive Director