Darian Aaron: Georgia on my mind

We have a reason to celebrate during Atlanta Pride this year.

The past three months since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples have been a whirlwind.I’m almost certain each of us remembers where we were when we heard the news that legal recognition of our relationships and families was no longer a promise we would pass down to the next generation, but a gift we’d be able to enjoy here in the present.

I was glued to MSNBC in my New York apartment as the ruling came down. I’d spent the night before contemplating whether or not to take a short flight to D.C. to witness history as it unfolded, but I ultimately decided against it; I’d had my hopes dashed one too many times by the tweets from SCOTUSblog informing the public that there would be no ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges that day. I now regret not taking that trip.

During the post-ruling celebration I was desperate to return home to Atlanta (this was before I was offered my position at Georgia Voice). I wanted to participate in the celebrations I knew were sweeping through the streets of our city. Besides that, I wanted to know how the anti-gay evangelical crowd was taking the news. So what did I do? I logged onto theGeorgiaVoice.com. That’s not a shameless plug, just the truth.

“The city’s LGBT community didn’t disappoint, with revelers beginning to descend on the intersection (of 10th and Piedmont) soon after the announcement. By late that afternoon it had turned into a full-on block party, with TEN Atlanta setting up outdoor bars and a DJ spinning tunes for the crowd,” wrote Patrick Saunders, deputy editor of Georgia Voice.

June 26, 2015, was the icing on the cake of a string of legal wins for our community after enduring years of anti-gay animus; several states, including Georgia, overwhelmingly approved marriage bans in 2004. This victory was incredibly sweet. Contrary to the opposition’s talking points, the sky didn’t fall, heterosexual marriages didn’t collapse and marriage hasn’t ceased to be important to heterosexual couples who seek to join the institution simply because the right has now been extended to their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. And shockingly, at least to me, Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens fell right in line and promised to obey the ruling.

Simply put: marriage equality in Georgia appears to be no big deal, unless you’re a gay or lesbian couple seeking the right to marry legally in the state for the first time. Now isn’t that something? Allow that to sink in.

Sky, are you still blue? Yep. Jane and Paul, are you still married? Yep. Evangelical homophobes and conservative politicians, are you still hating? Yep. See, it’s business as usual. In all my excitement, I’d never taken a moment to celebrate the fact that our state hasn’t turned out to be as bigoted as many expected. It might have taken a Supreme Court ruling before Georgia did the right thing, but we have no record of Kim Davis-style embarrassments or a state Supreme Court chief justice going rogue akin to the Ten Commandments-worshipping Roy Moore next door in my home state of Alabama, and for that I’m sure we’re all grateful.

There is still work to be done. The twice-failed, so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act “ sponsored by state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) is expected to be reintroduced in the legislature in January, and it remains a threat to our community. But for now, let’s celebrate and use the energy and sense of community that we all experience during Pride to continue sharing our stories, changing hearts and minds, and kicking the hell out of homophobia wherever it rears its ugly head.