7.4. 13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotEveryone will remember where they were on June 26, 2013. This day will go down as one of the greatest Civil Rights victories of our collective history, and it’s a day that not-so-coincidentally lands within a day of the anniversary of the June 27, 1969 Stonewall Riots.

I was glued to my computer that day, watching the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) blog while CNN ran live coverage on my television. My sweaty palms hovered over my keyboard, waiting to share the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the fate of Proposition 8 in California, which halted marriage equality in that state five years ago.

Both rulings came down in favor of marriage equality and, while same-sex couples can’t wed across the United States just yet, a large roadblock has been removed from our country’s path to full acceptance of diverse families.
I wish this was the end of the story. I wish we could celebrate the end of our journey to equality. But that’s not the case. We have a lot more work to do.

Already a Republican representative from Kansas has introduced an amendment to the federal constitution outlawing same-sex marriage. Even though the legislation already has the support of almost 30 Republican representatives, it’s highly unlikely that his amendment will make it out of the house. But knowing someone is so vehemently against our community within a week of a major victory is cause for concern.

Right here at home, Florida continues to lag behind public opinion, and its governor shows no signs of helping the Sunshine State right itself on the marriage equality debate.

As LGBT people continue to enter the mainstream consciousness of the country and our allies celebrate our victories along with us, our detractors and enemies are more motivated than ever to derail our progress. The battle for our equality isn’t over, and whether or not you want to get married, knowing there are those who want to deny you the rights your neighbors enjoy should be enough to motivate you for the ongoing fight.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t laud each milestone. In fact, this Commemorative Issue of Watermark is just that-a celebration of a ruling that changes the face of our fight toward equality that would have been unimaginable only five years ago. We have to celebrate the victories in order to remain steadfast in our continuing fight.

This year’s St. Pete Pride was a perfect example of the new energy mobilizing the LGBT community and its allies. Throughout its previous 10 years, St. Pete Pride has never experienced downpours or heavy rains during its parade. In fact, a tropical storm in 2012 lifted to the northeast just days before the street festival to make way for a scorcher of a celebration last year.

But 2013 was different, if not symbolic. Heavy downpours made soggy appearances throughout the street festival and promenade, soaking everyone lining the streets and participating in each of the 100-plus parade units. But the rains couldn’t stop the celebration.

As soon as the downpour turned into a drizzle, Central Avenue came alive with the hustle and bustle of reunited friends, smiling couples walking hand-in-hand and diverse families strolling from vendor to vendor. Our community is a resilient one, and just as we continued to fight after we were told we could not marry the one we love, we continued to celebrate while rainclouds dumped inches upon inches of cold water on our festival.

The Supreme Court has given us reason feel optimistic. But remember that Florida is one of 30-plus states that still refuses to recognize our relationships despite a national shift of opinion in our favor.

In this issue we take look at what these recent decisions mean for us and our relationships, how it affects those legally married in one state but who are unrecognized in another like Florida, and what our local and state representatives say about our families.

A lot can happen in a few short years, especially when we work together as a community. Hopefully soon, the ultimate milestone will be reached and history will have a brand new date that’s cause for celebration.

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