Marriage equality anniversary marked as LGBT community looks forward

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At a vigil following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, attendees honored the victims and showed their support for the LGBT community.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

On June 26, 2015, across the nation, rainbow flags were waved and couples wed, after the 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges was announced.

Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority decision stating, “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation…”

Charlie Bonner, a Plan II junior said it was a very surreal moment when he heard about the decision.

“It was almost as if it didn’t seem real, as if it was still a dream,” Bonner said. “It was an affirmation for myself and a lot of my friends that this was a country where we could actually belong.”

Bonner said marriage was not something he ever really considered before the decision and changed the way he saw his role in this country.

“When thinking about yourself as an equal with other people, it really was this big glaring act of inequality in our country,” Bonner said. “We’ve for so long used our constitution to justify inequality, and this was important.”

But Bonner said recent events remind people the fight for equality isn’t over.

“It’s so sad this tragedy kind of bookends the first year,” Bonner said. “And violence against the LGBT community isn’t random and is something that happens all the time all around the world.”

Paul Huddleston, president of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation, said he felt a sense of validation and joy after the decision was announced. 

Huddleston said some attitudes toward the LGBT community have shifted, but others remain the same.  

“I guess you can say attitudes and mindsets have definitely shifted, but they’ve been shifting for quite a while,” Huddleston said. “I know that the Supreme Court ruling helped advance people’s thinking, but there’s also those people in opposition to it, for whom it solidified their way of thinking.”

Huddleston said in Texas, change happens slower.

“Texas is notorious for not being supportive of the LGBTQ community, and when I say that, I do make an exception for some lawmakers and policymakers who are supportive,” Huddleston said. “But unfortunately the majority is not, especially when talking about those in the Capitol building.”

Austin Reynolds, vice president of the Senate of College Councils and English and sociology senior, said the ruling will always be a triumph for the queer community.

“It’s importance will carry a lot of weight for years to come as we continue to question the norm,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the ruling created a polarizing effect that identified allies and enemies.

“We still live in an age where politicians, like Ted Cruz, threaten to undo the judicial process dictated by the constitution in order to force conservative values on all of us and ban gay marriage,” Reynolds said. “We have a lot more work to do.”