The Supreme Court ruling that blew the closet doors off gay marriage bans was met with jubilation by many across the country. The decision, which made it illegal for states to define marriage as between a man and a woman, was celebrated as a historic victory for gay people nationwide, many of whom live in states where same-sex marriage was explicitly banned by constitutional law.
Despite the victory, some gay rights activists were quick to point out that the ruling is hardly the cure-all when it comes to discrimination against gays and lesbians in the U.S. Because federal fair housing and employment laws do not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes, in many states it is still legal for an employer to fire someone for being gay or to refuse to rent an apartment to a gay or transgender person.
That means gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, people can still lose their jobs in 28 states simply for being gay or transgender. “While recognizing this as a victory, [we] understand that the LGBT movement must harness this momentum to secure greater equality, especially nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans,” Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “It’s unacceptable that hardworking LGBT business owners still be discriminated against in corporate and government supply chains and that LGBT people can still be fired from their jobs in 28 states, evicted from their homes, or denied service in restaurants and shops simply for being who they are.”
The patchwork of anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. is complicated and varies by state and local jurisdiction. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another six states have executive or administrative orders that prohibit such discriminations.
Other gay rights activists agreed that the fight for equality was far from over. "We need to have the same robust campaign to eliminate discrimination in housing, education, and employment, as we had to win the freedom to marry,” Evan Wilson, president of Freedom to Marry, told International Business Times. “We also need to be passing more state and local nondiscrimination laws, both because they provide protections themselves and because they are the building blocks to get the country where it needs to be."
The Supreme Court’s ruling marked a milestone for the U.S. gay rights movement, an effort that dates back decades. The justices ruled 5-4 Friday in favor of gay marriage. The decision has made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, even in states with constitutional bans against it.