Can Marriage Equality Activists Retire, Now?

Marriage equality groups keep shutting down -- but the fight might not be over.

Now that nationwide marriage equality is a thing, should activists just pack up their bullhorns and protest posters and head home for some R&R?

A month after the Supreme Court's historic marriage equality decision Freedom To Marry, one of the biggest marriage equality advocacy groups, announced that it would shut down its operations, because MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. On Tuesday (August 4), another marriage equality group, The American Foundation for Equal Rights, announced that it was shutting down, too.

But since the ruling, some states and counties have continued to resist obeying the law, and anti-LGBT equality groups have continued to vocally call for a reversal of the Supreme Court's decision. One such group, the National Organization for Marriage, has even laid out a "five point plan" for amending the Constitution to re-ban gay marriage. Number one in that list: Elect an anti-marriage equality president in 2016.

Today (August 5), Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff who gave Obergefell v. Hodges (the Supreme Court marriage equality case) its namesake, wrote an op-ed for asking Republican presidential candidates -- who will gather in Cleveland this week for the year's first official Republican debate -- to be really, truly honest about their stance on LGBT equality.

After his husband, John Arthur, died from ALS, and the state of Ohio refused to list him as the "surviving spouse" on the death certificate, Obergefell fought back. And, following the court's June ruling, the state was forced to acknowledge their marriage. Now, though, he's worried that all our hard work could still be undone -- he's not convinced the SCOTUS ruling means we're completely in the clear.

"What will my marriage mean in 2016 and beyond if a candidate who opposes marriage equality wins the White House?" Obergefell asked.

"When Republican presidential hopefuls gather here this week," he continued, "it's important that voters in Ohio and across the country learn whether they will drag us back to an era in which gay and lesbian couples can no longer marry."

Obergefell went on to call out many of the Republican presidential candidates who have emphasized their opposition to gay marriage. He also demanded that the candidates who've made vague statements about accepting the law -- like Ben Carson's acknowledgment that though he disagrees with same-sex marriage, it's "now the law of the land" -- clarify what that stance would actually mean for LGBT Americans if they were elected.

"This all left me with some important, straightforward questions..." Obergefell writes. "Do you support efforts to undo my marriage?"

Practically speaking, even if an anti-marriage equality candidate found their way to the White House in 2016, it would be extremely difficult to "overturn" the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. But as we've seen with other Supreme Court rulings, like Roe v. Wade, it's still possible for gradual, incremental changes to federal, state and local laws to gradually erode the "fundamental rights" won by a Supreme Court ruling.

We may have won the war, but there are still lots of battles coming our way. Keep your bullhorn handy.