It was a great and historic day in California today, as the pernicious and oppressive Proposition 8 was overturned by the ruling of a federal judge. This is, in my opinion, the first step on a journey that will, hopefully, result in the full inclusion of gay men and women in the fabric of American life, including and especially the right to celebrate and share our lives with those we love, with the approval and rights that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. The judge has shown that, when it comes to a democracy, the opinion of the “many” (even if that term is defined by a narrow majority of approximately 52%,) should not be allowed to oppress the lives of a few.

However, although this ruling is indeed a cause for celebration among those of us in the GLBT community, we should also be cautious in our optimism. Those who are in favor of a gay marriage ban have already stated that they are going to pursue an appeal, and it will most likely be several years before the case goes before the Supreme Court, and even then there’s no guarantee that we are going to get the ruling that we might desire (although there has been some speculation, including a recent piece in the “Huffington Post, that Justice Kennedy might come down on our side, assuming the rest of the court is split into its usual liberals and conservatives.) So yes, we should celebrate this day as another step forward in the fight for gay rights, we must also be certain to be cautious. The fight is far from over.

We should also remember that, just because the court has found in our favor, doesn’t mean that there aren’t still lots of people out there dead-set against the idea of gay men and women sharing their lives together in marriage (or any other sort of legal recognition, for that matter.) Yes, we most definitely should take this issue to the highest court in the land. After all, it is only there that we can hope to get a fair and balanced ruling, one based (ostensibly, at least,) on the rules set down by the Constitution rather than on the religious zealousness of bigoted fundamentalists. However, we also have to remember that there are many people who will do whatever they can to deny those in the GLBT community their equal rights, so we must always be vigilant.

So, what can we do in light of these developments? We can bask in the euphoria for a few days, but then the work must resume. We must ensure that we apply as much pressure to as many political points as possible. The wind is blowing in our direction, so we need to make sure that we take advantage of that fact and move ahead with our movement to gain equality. We can’t let this victory slide or fade away from public consciousness. We need to keep up the momentum, and never stop fighting until this issue goes straight to the Supreme Court. And, even if they rule in their favor, we must be always vigilant to ensure that those rights are guaranteed and protected in every way. Then, and only then, can we breathe easy.

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