By Erin Bassler
The legend of Saint Valentine tells the tale of a holy man who broke the laws of Rome in order to use love to protect the people. Emperor Claudius is said to have forbidden his soldiers to marry, in order to amass a great army to bring him victory in war. Saint Valentine married soldiers in secret, binding couples together in matrimony so that husbands would not be sent off into pointless battle for no better reason than pride or hatred.
For the Saint, love was a shield that should be used to defend against needless pain, and the same can still be said today.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court at long last ruled that nowhere in the United States can anyone, regardless of the sex of their partner, be prohibited from marrying whomever they choose and having that union be legally recognized.
We have finally reached a time in our country’s history where no one, whether gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, or otherwise, has to hide who they are or who they care about. Love is worn proudly and while there are still many challenges and problems ahead, we have taken a real step in acceptance that should be celebrated.
Before the law was recognized, countless couples were forced to hide their feelings and their commitments to each other because they did not fit the image of a traditional marriage. For so long, the legality of love has been at the mercy of “emperors” of our own—politicians and government officials who fear what such a change may bring.
In regards to marriage equality, presidential candidate Marco Rubio said, “It is the current law. I don’t believe any case law is settled law. Any future Supreme Court can change it. And ultimately, I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed.”
Candidate Donald Trump, while not on the metaphorical warpath, has responded that he would “strongly consider it,” if given the chance to appoint new judges who would vote in favor of overruling the marriage-equality act.
However, even faced with those who would rather use their views, opinions, and power as weapons, love’s shield remains unyielding against the blows.
Better yet—love is still winning.
As of 2015, 55 percent of Americans are in support of same-sex marriage, while only 39 percent oppose it. Those numbers have been steadily increasing and lowering respectfully since 2009, and they show no signs of stopping.
Meanwhile, since June 2015, discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation has been considered illegal through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At the same time, adoption of children is now as legal for same-sex parents as it is for traditional couples.
Members of the LGBT community as well as loyal supporters stand at the forefront of the country’s government. In support of progress, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said, “Because of the decency of the American people, because of the strength of the gay rights movement, we have changed consciousness in this country.”
The fact of the matter is this: the world is changing and adapting with every new generation. History is marching forward and there are much more immediate threats to our way of life than arguing whether or not that pitter-patter in your chest is l’amour or a chemical imbalance.
Regardless what the future will bring, we’ve made it through Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Bush the Revenge. The world’s still turning, people are still standing, and they haven’t stopped caring.
The reason for the legend of Saint Valentine and the original meaning behind Valentine’s Day—before it became a corporate chocolate-selling conundrum, was that love is a comfort, something to be celebrated and shared, not hidden away. There is no shame in loving someone, whether you’re straight, gay, bi, pan, trans, or any variety of orientation or identity.
No matter what you feel, you are a person and you deserve to be loved.