The current state of same-sex marriage is going to look very bright from the perspective of almost anyone who has lived through a good portion of the twentieth century. Even fifteen years ago, many liberals were very cynical about the possibility of gay marriage happening in the future. They would have regarded the idea of same-sex marriage being the law of the land in the United States in the year 2015 as being far too optimistic. Many of them have hopefully learned from this experience. However, it is important to remember that holding onto the progress that has been achieved and going even further will still be part of the process, and that same-sex marriage is not the only gay civil rights issue.
When same-sex marriage became legal in the United States in 2015, one of the most important milestones in American history had officially been reached. Same-sex marriage is already legal throughout most of the developed world, and the fact that the United States has managed to become part of that tremendous movement is significant in its own right. The United States still has a lot of power on the global scale, which makes this change in the culture of the United States so important. The developing world still needs to make a lot of progress when it comes to gay rights, and many religions still do not support same-sex marriage for their followers. However, the trend is towards broader marriage equality.
However, there are conservatives who are trying to turn back the clock. Some conservatives are content to keep this at the level of personal protests that will be ultimately ineffective. Some conservatives have surrendered, and they are now moving onto other relationship styles in search of new targets. However, other conservatives have grand plans for what they’re going to do if the balance of power in the Supreme Court shifts, so activists cannot get too comfortable.
There is also the fact that gay rights issues are more complicated than this. Gay people still face disproportionate problems with homelessness and employment discrimination, as do trans people. There are still conservatives who are trying to advocate for their supposed rights to discriminate against gay people. There’s also the fact that marriage equality in the United States and elsewhere in general has other problems. Many people struggling with disabilities and many poor people still struggle to marry the people who they love, and some of them are also going to be LGBT people. Removing one legal barrier to marriage is important, but people should not act as if all legal barriers to marriage have been removed.
Naturally, social barriers to gay marriage have not entirely dissolved. Interracial marriage has been legal for a long time, and many interracial couples are still going to face discrimination. Gay couples, especially if they are gay and interracial or gay and trans, will still face social discrimination. However, the relative lack of legal discrimination for them still represents hard-won progress that people will have to fight to keep.