Commentary: Still a lot to fight for 

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June is LGBT Pride month. For most, this means giant parties, parades, festivals and rainbows for the entire world to see.

But as pride becomes more mainstream and integrated into popular culture, it is important to remember that in 2015, Pride will be historic.  Any day now, the Supreme Court of the United States is expected to issue a decision that will resolve the national debate on the freedom for same-gender couples to marry.

Pride began in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots in New York City, only 46 years ago.

If the court’s decision is in favor of equality, as expected, it will represent a quantum leap in the arena of civil rights.

However, full and lived equality encompasses a lot more than just marriage equality.

In the eight months since marriages began in Oklahoma, there has been ample proof that many challenges remain for the LGBT community beyond marriage.

It is still legal in 35 states — including Oklahoma — to discriminate in the arenas of housing, employment and service based on one’s gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. In 46 states — including Oklahoma — it is legal to abuse LGBT youth in the name of so-called “conversion therapy.”

Oklahoma does not even have an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes law.

The fight for marriage has captured the attention of the nation, but even if we win that battle, full and lived equality is still far from our reality.

There is also the danger of a greater backlash after a national marriage resolution, greater than the one we have already seen in 2015.

In states around the nation, we saw attempts by state legislators to roll back the progress that has been made. They proposed laws to create legal segregation with “turn away the gays” legislation.

Oklahoma in particular faced an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills, with 18 during the 2015 legislative session.

While all of these bills were defeated, the statement was clear: The battle isn’t over. And as fair-minded Oklahomans from all walks of life proved this year, we are more than ready to continue working for freedom and equality.

In the past year, Oklahomans witnessed their brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, mothers, fathers and children get married to their partners. And what they discovered was that the world did not quit turning.

In fact, the only thing that changed was how happy their loved ones had become.

It is this momentum, this revelation, that is changing hearts and minds.

As anyone who has ever studied the civil rights movement can tell you, it did not end with the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. That is where it really began.

So, as we celebrate Pride this month, we have a lot of achievements to be proud of, but chief among them is the momentum we take in to the next phase of the equality movement.

Troy Stevenson is the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, a statewide organization focused on public education and advocacy on behalf of Oklahoma’s LGBT Community.

Print headline: A lot to be proud of, but fight isn’t over

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