By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service
TACOMA, Wash. – Sunday is the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages. Since then, the number of gay and lesbian couples living together and married has gone up from 38 percent to 49 percent, according to a Gallup poll.
Patricia McIntyre, president of Tacoma Older LGBT said that the community in Washington celebrated the decision even though same-sex marriage has been legal in the state since 2012. However, she said that decision is just one of many steps toward equality.
“I think I will always want to caution people that that didn’t solve everything,” McIntyre said. “There’s still a lot of battles, there’s still a lot of things going on.”
She said the community is now fighting bills across the country that restrict transgender individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
According to McIntyre, the older LGBT generation faces a unique challenge now that marriage equality is the law of the land.
“Older people in general are invisible,” she said. “But the older LGBT more so. They don’t have the built-in supports that their heterosexual counterparts might have.”
She said that heterosexual couples have children to rely on in old age more often than homosexual couples do, and that can create challenges for their long-term care.
People in the faith community are also working hard to change perceptions. Ann Adkinson, pastor at First United Methodist Church of Tacoma, said she and her congregation supported Washington state’s 2012 referendum to legalize same-sex marriage. For her, she said, it’s not an issue of faith.
“I and others in my congregation see the civil marriage as absolutely just a civil rights issue,” Adkinson said. “It doesn’t have biblical interpretation, and church tradition really has very little to do with it.”
She said the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando should be a wake-up call about the language churches use when speaking about people in the LGBT community.
“The rhetoric and church teaching around LGBT people as somehow disordered or wrong does contribute to violence,” Adkinson said. “I absolutely believe that that’s true and we have to take responsibility for that.”