With so much stress and uncertainty weighing us all down, it can be hard to properly grieve the loss of a hero. But Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a hero, and we owe her the time and space in our hearts and minds to remember all that she did for us. And by us, I mean everybody in this country, not just women, not just LGBTQ people. RBG made equality her life’s work, and equality helps everybody.
Which is why it’s incredibly sad, especially with the living proof of people who benefited from RBG’s work, that not everybody understands that.
During the 2016 election, there was a wave of conservative people saying things like “I don’t recognize my country anymore,” or “I feel like a stranger in my own home.” A lot of pundits attributed those voters to pushing Donald Trump to victory. They didn’t like seeing their local businesses closed, they didn’t like seeing their town economies swallowed up by corporations or evaporate altogether, they didn’t like CEOs in New York and Los Angeles dictating what culture they could consume. At least that’s what they said in public.
Privately, it was more like: they didn’t like having to call transgender people by their chosen name, they didn’t like the immigrants who moved in next door and playing music in another language, they didn’t like the word “God” being removed from places they expected it to be, they didn’t like women being able to choose what happens to their bodies.
For all the things they were afraid to say out loud for fear of being branded a racist or misogynist or anti-LGBTQ, those conservative people instead looked to Trump, and to the Supreme Court, for validation. They believe that if the Supreme Court has enough Trump-appointed justices, justices that think like them, live like them, and rule in their favor, that their way of life will be saved. That could not be more false.
Because no matter what the Supreme Court rules, immigrants will always exist. Different religions will always exist. LGBTQ people will always exist.
If the court had upheld sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas, it wouldn’t have stopped LGBTQ people from loving one another. It wouldn’t have stopped pride parades. It wouldn’t have stopped families from forming and communities from being built.
If the court had ruled in favor of employment discrimination in Bostock v. Clayton County, it wouldn’t have stopped LGBTQ people from contributing to society in meaningful ways and being strong pillars in their communities.
Because those things are already here. They’re a part of our lives. And they will remain no matter what nine judges say.
The Supreme Court cannot stop America from adapting to a changing world. They can slow it down or speed it up, certainly, but they cannot stop it.
And as long as we LGBTQ people are willing to be open about ourselves, willing to contribute to our communities, and willing to speak out for our rights, no court ruling can take away who we are. We’re here to stay.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight like hell to keep the court system fair and equitable. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t call our Senators to ask them why they support judges who don’t believe in LGBTQ rights or immigrant rights or women’s rights. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t vote Trump out and his Republican enablers along with him.
We have the power to vote out those who don’t believe in equality for everybody. We have the power to vote out those who stand against all that RBG embodied. And in November, we will.