A Newfound Peace: How the SCOTUS Ruling Changed Lives

A recent Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling legalized same-sex civil marriage across the United States. For a long time before that, Austin Blake lived in fear.

Not the fear of violence, necessarily — though that certainly was on his mind at times — but of emotional pain. Of rejection by people he’d known his whole life. Of being outed, caught, and called a liar because of his sexual orientation. He thought the people he loved would never understand.

But over time, societal pressures lessened, and same-sex relationships became more acceptable. He came out to a few people he knew he could trust: his mother, his brother, his best friend, and a few others — including me.

He met a man who eventually became his partner. And although he did have to introduce him as a roommate to certain people to “keep the peace,” that wasn’t a huge deal. Things were OK, and so he was OK, too.

Now, after the SCOTUS ruling, things are the best they’ve ever been.

I would know. As one of the people who found out early, I had the pleasure of watching these two excellent people — one’s a director of a small nonprofit, and the other works in a group home for children with autism — live, grow, and love together. Now that their relationship is legitimized in the eyes of the law, anyone who knows them can see the difference.

That’s why the SCOTUS ruling is a huge step forward for the LGBT community, including those who may never elect to have a civil marriage. It represents a shift in attitude — a large-scale endorsement of the idea that love will triumph. It solidifies every American’s “inalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness, as promised to all citizens in the Declaration of Independence. And beyond those things, it protects men and women nationwide who are hospitalized or need emergency medical decisions made on their behalf, because their same-sex partners are now authorized to be with them and empowered to make those decisions in a way they couldn’t always before.

Austin bears no ill will toward anyone who might disagree with the ruling.

“It’s more sadness,” he says. “Because they have hate in their hearts. I knew who I was with regard to my sexuality for a long time. I couldn’t change it even if I wanted to, and it taught me from a very young age not to care about what other people were doing, so long as it didn’t affect me.”

Have he and his partner been targets of discrimination? Absolutely. They’ve been called names and cut out of lives, and they were once threatened for sharing a “very chaste kiss” at a gas pump.

But that’s in the past. Austin chooses to see the SCOTUS ruling as confirmation that things are going to be OK for him, his partner, and their LGBT friends and allies across the country.

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