After Marriage Equality, What's Next For The LGBT Movement? One commentator worries that, going forward, other serious issues for LGBT Americans may garner less support "because it's just not as fun to be involved in" as in the marriage equality movement.
NPR logo

After Marriage Equality, What's Next For The LGBT Movement?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
After Marriage Equality, What's Next For The LGBT Movement?

After Marriage Equality, What's Next For The LGBT Movement?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Yesterday, we reported on what's next for opponents of same-sex marriage after Friday's Supreme Court ruling. But what's next for the LGBT movement? Bryan Lowder writes about LGBT culture for Slate, and he admits he's worried the court's decision could have unintended consequences for the community. Bryan, welcome to the program.

BRYAN LOWDER: Thanks so much for having me.

RATH: First, you write about how many states and businesses might decide to do away with domestic partnership arrangements they had before the ruling. But why would anyone still want those arrangements if gay marriage is legal in all 50 states?

LOWDER: In some cases, couples don't want to get married. They would prefer to have the domestic partnership. And that can be for ideological reasons. They may not, sort of, like the institution of marriage. But also, in certain states where there are no discrimination protections for LGBT people, you know, there's the line that says if you get married on Sunday, you could get fired on Monday. So forcing people, in a sense, to get married by getting rid of these domestic partnership agreements could make them have to come out to their communities in a certain sense such that they were in danger of being discriminated against.

RATH: And that leads me to my next question talking about things like discrimination protection. You write how there are still these serious issues for the LGBTQ movement to conquer. But you say it might be harder to rally support now.

LOWDER: Yeah. So the interesting thing about marriage as a social cause over the past, you know, few decades or so has been that it is a very happy kind of cause. It's easy to brand it as like a beautiful thing, because we all love to see pictures of people being happy and in love. It's very easy to share on social media, which is, you know, incidentally sort of arisen alongside the marriage-equality movement. And so marriage in some ways has been like an easy sell. I don't want to overstate that, because obviously there's been a lot of - a lot of intense activism to get to the point we got to.

But the things that are coming up for the LGBT community next, such as discrimination or trans-phobia, all the things that we're coming to next in our movement are just not as easily shareable and happy. So I do worry that, you know, once marriage equality is done, we're going to lose some of the allies that we've had in the past because it's just not as fun to be involved in it. And I hope that's not true, but I think it could happen.

RATH: You're also concerned that not everyone in the LGBTQ community - not every initial represented there - is going to benefit equally from the Supreme Court ruling. Could you explain that?

LOWDER: A lot of, for instance, trans individuals would much rather have protections and support for their particular issues than for marriage equality. Also, you know, LGBT homelessness among youth is a huge problem in this country, in cases, you know, where parents kick people out for identifying as queer. So fixing that problem might be a more immediate concern for those individuals than, you know, getting married.

And again, this is - it's no surprise that the movement has seized on marriage as its sole focus for a long time or one of its main focuses for a long time because it's such a - such a easy thing to organize around. But there are many other issues in the community that are more important to certain individuals.

RATH: Finally, you raise the issue of what marriage equality means for gay culture for lack of a better term. And you kind of recognize gay culture's - it's a slippery, problematic term. But can you talk about what you're talking about there?

LOWDER: Because gay people and lesbian people and, you know, the entire community did not have the ability to get married, that was not a goal within the community. So you didn't grow up as a gay kid hoping for your wedding, because it just wasn't a possibility. Some people may have wanted it, but most of us, you know, just didn't think about it because it wasn't on the table.

And so I think that that allowed us to imagine different ways of being in romantic relationships and loving. So for some of us, that meant monogamous relationships that looked exactly like a married couple and just didn't have the legal imprimatur of the state. But for other people, they had many different kinds of arrangements.

And so what I do worry about is, with this opportunity being offered to everyone now, which is clearly a great thing, maybe we will lose some of that imagination that the gay community has had in the past to think about how to live in different ways and, you know, really offer a critique to straight culture of how we can arrange our romantic lives.

RATH: Bryan Lowder writes about LGBTQ issues and culture at large for Bryan, thanks very much.

LOWDER: Thank so much for having me.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.