Last month’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was a monumental and profound moment in the struggle for marriage equality and equal rights. After years of legal, political and personal appeals, the 5-4 ruling extended to all same-sex couples the rights and protections, and respect and dignity, that the institution of marriage affords.

But the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, though momentous and worthy of celebration, is no more the final word in marriage equality than Roe v. Wade was the final word in women’s reproductive rights, or the passage of the Voting Rights Act was the final word on minority enfranchisement.

No, opponents will not concede now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land. Instead, they’ll chip away at the edges.

The momentum following the court ruling, then, should be used to fight back against those efforts, and to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, so the equal protection promised in the Constitution is truly realized.


In pushing back on Obergefell v. Hodges, marriage-equality opponents will start with so-called religious freedom laws, the kind that were scuttled recently in Arizona and Indiana — and subsequently dropped in Maine — following an outcry from businesses and residents.

These laws are unnecessary, and even harmful. Religious freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution, and the right for churches and ministers to refuse to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies is well-established.

And for all the talk about who will be forced to bake a cake for whom, it is the rights of gay and lesbians, not religious business owners, that have been trampled on for years with the full backing of the law. Religious freedom laws would only make that sort of discrimination more likely, at a time when it is clear we should be heading in the other direction.

State legislatures got it right when they killed these laws earlier this year. They shouldn’t let a more focused effort from conservatives angry at the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling resurrect them.


At the same time, attacks on same-sex marriage will continue on the federal level.

A constitutional amendment banning the practice is a pipe dream, but a future court could revisit the issue.

The recent ruling was as close as it gets, and the next president may have the opportunity to nominate multiple justices. All of the GOP candidates that have declared so far denounced the Supreme Court ruling, and all are opposed to same-sex marriage.

In that way, the court ruling is more like a victory in Game 1 of the World Series than a win in the Super Bowl.

However, to stick with the sports theme, marriage equality proponents shouldn’t be content to play defense.

It is still legal in 29 states to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (and in three additional states, on the basis of gender identity).

So while gays and lesbians are now free to marry in states like Alabama, Texas, Pennsylvania and Kansas, they can still be fired if the wrong boss sees them kiss their partner good-bye.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would make this sort of discrimination illegal in all 50 states. Only then will same-sex couples truly be on equal footing with other married Americans.

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