As the plates of law and society shift under our feet, there are a thousand things to celebrate (even if some occur in the context of deep mourning).
I think that for me however, after decades in which there were few if any progressive victories that could be labeled movement victories, the marriage decision was the first true movement victory. There were legal victories, moral victories, legislative victories, political victories, personal victories, but few movement victories in the decades since the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement (which victory always seemed a little unclear), and the women’s movement (whose victories always seem under assault at the intellectual and legal level.).
My wife and I were congratulating and thanking a potentially deeply impacted relative, and the reply was “I had absolutely nothing to do we it.” We responded along the lines of, “yes you did, because you stood up and were yourself, and stood up for who you are. It was millions like you doing that that won this fight.”
Later we added “That is what a movement is.”
I do not mean by this way of celebrating in any way to lessen either that this is a victory of and by the LGBT community, indeed this just underlines its importance. Nor do I want to lessen the importance of the so far less complete victories of those such as dreamers — rather this also highlights those movements’ huge potential.
Above all, I just want to underline the hope that we remember that lawyers as such alone don’t change the world, we just help those who find a way to unite in a movement to do so. And, as is so often the case, one movement can lead to another, and to another, but only if folks are willing to grab the courage — and hopefully that it will be less than a few decades more until another such movement victory.
Thank you all.
P.S. And, maybe sometime, we will figure out how to shape our attempts to urge access to justice into a true movement. Thoughts on how are for a future post.