We Still Have a Long Way to go for True Equality in Kansas
Posted by Paul
October 9, 2014
Many of you have probably read about the recent Supreme Court decision not to hear cases from the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuit courts striking down same-sex marriage bans. This move by the Court paved the way for marriage equality in many states, with the possibility of 30 states having freedom to marry by the end of the year. This is a huge victory for activists and advocates that have been pushing for decisions like this for a long time. We should take the time and celebrate this accomplishment and remember the long road it took to get to this point.
But here in Kansas, as well as in many other states across the nation, this fight for marriage equality is far from over. Although Kansas is in the 10th Circuit, Gov. Sam Brownback has stated that Kansas should defend its ban on same-sex marriage, noting that the Kansas Constitutional amendment defining “traditional marriage” passed in 2005 with 70% of voters affirming. And Brownback isn’t alone in this sentiment. Many prominent politicians in Kansas have vowed to fight this court decision.
And even as Kansas moves toward issuing marriage licenses to all, we must keep our perspective on what true equality is. The state that is home to the Westboro Baptist Church isn’t likely to embrace equal rights any time soon. Even if all couples can enjoy the benefits of marriage, everyday life for LGBTQ individuals is full of hurdles that must be overcome. For example, in Kansas, along with many other states, any person can be fired from a place of employment without being given any reason. There are no protections against employment discrimination by gender or sexual orientation. In fact, in 2014, the Kansas Legislature almost passed a bill allowing for blatant discrimination against individuals based on gender and sexual orientation under the guise of “religious freedom.” The discriminatory attitudes are still very much in place in positions of power in Kansas.
If you look at history, sexism existed (and still does) after women gained the right to vote in 1920. Racism existed (and still does) after desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement. And discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation will still exist after we affirm the legal right to marry for everyone.
So where do we go from here? It’s still going to be a long, difficult journey. Looking at the Civil Rights movement and the Women’s Rights movement, we are still fighting for the equality that has yet to come. But the important thing is that we are still fighting against those inequalities, and we must keep fighting against this one. We must not allow the movement to die out after the goal of marriage equality is realized. Social justice is not a goal that comes without hard work, determination, and persistence. We cannot allow ourselves to be satisfied and our champions to become complacent. We need to continue to push for real equality in our society.