Author Guest Blog: Catherine Ryan Hyde

I’m not sure how many people are aware of the fact that I just published an ebook sequel to my 2006 LGBT YA novel Becoming Chloe. It’s called Always Chloe and Other Stories. This time Jordy gets to have a boyfriend. Actually, a husband. Jordy reunites with his old flame Kevin, and they decide to marry.

While I was writing the first draft of the novel, the California Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Good timing! Well, it would have been good timing whenever they decided it, but it was a lovely opportunity for the book. So I happily wrote that in. Then came Prop 8, effectively reversing that decision. But I didn’t exactly write it back out again. I was so sure marriage equality would be the truth in California soon enough that I left it alone. If nothing else, it’s a snapshot of where things stood at the time.

Because of all that, I want to talk a little about marriage equality. I’m sure it goes without saying that I’m all for it. But marriage equality and full equality are not the same thing. I think it’s best if we look that fact right in the eye.

In championing marriage equality, we jumped over the fact that it’s still legal to fire someone for being gay in 29 states. Also to discriminate against them in housing.  For being transgender, make that 34 states. Those seems like some pretty important walls of discrimination to leave in place. And a lot of our transgender brothers and sisters feel they were thrown under the bus with the decision to ask them to “wait for their rights.” I don’t blame them.

An awful lot of people have been waiting an awfully long time already.

I still think marriage equality is a great idea. If nothing else, because we’ve seen a healthy pattern in states that now allow gay marriage: nothing happened. I mean, gay people got married. But nothing bad happened. Every time someone wants to block gay marriage, they claim terrible things will happen. I guess because it’s really hard to just stand up and say, “Don’t give that person their rights because I’m not ready to let them have them.” How would that sound as a reason? So they claim it will erode the very fabric of our society. But of course it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, people get used to the idea and stop being so afraid. And this can only be good.

But I still think we’re doing things in the wrong order.

I think the priorities should be ordered as follows: 1, no one should be beaten to death just for the way they choose to express themselves. 2, no one should lose a job or be kicked out of their home because of their sexuality or gender expression. 3, everyone should be able to get married.

First things first.

I’m not a fan of watching people barter and bargain over what voters or congressional representatives are “ready for.” As I’m fond of saying, “What part of liberty and justice for all don’t you understand?” When it comes to all people being equal in the eyes of the law, I feel it’s a ready-or-not situation.

The simple fact is that none of us is free until all of us are free. As long as anyone can be made to pay a price for being who and what they are, we are all oppressed.

I still cheer loudly when marriage equality earns big victories. So I’ve been doing a lot of cheering lately. I just hope we can all be honest with ourselves. Until we pass an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, until adoption is equally available, until we have to cancel Transgender Day of Remembrance in November because  we have no names to read, we have more work to do. And when people are being murdered, being fired, being left homeless, that’s no time to tell them to wait for what’s rightly theirs. For what everybody should have had all along.