June 26, 2016, is a big day. It marks the one-year anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.
On that day in 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ended the marriage equality ban across all 50 states. This was thanks to the work of LGBTQ activists, everyday people, and politicians pushing for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
Illustrator Carol Lay created a comic to celebrate marriage equality this year, and she looked to same-sex couples in her own life first.
She wanted to show how they dealt with anti-LGBTQ legislation before 2015.
"My oldest friend from college married her spouse when it first became legal in California," Lay told Upworthy in an email.
"There was that six-month window before [people] shut it down by pouring money into Proposition 8. The other female couple I know were in Arkansas, and couldn’t marry until last year; one [of the women] just died."
Lay wanted to show that implementing marriage equality in law wasn’t just a ceremonial marker.
Legalizing same-sex marriage meant that same-sex couples could enjoy federal and state benefits, such as receiving bigger checks from Social Security, jointly filing taxes, and being able to see a sick partner in the hospital.
And while the Supreme Court decision began a new era in our country’s treatment of gay couples, Lay wanted to show that the fight for equality is far from over.
Transgender homicide rates are on the rise, Congress has blocked bills that would protect LGBTQ employees from discriminatory practices at work, and the recent massacre in Orlando broke many hearts. These are all unfortunate signs that we still have a lot of work to do.
"This story started in script stage as a love story to celebrate a year of legalized marriage throughout the U.S.," said Lay. "The atrocity in Orlando occurred during the editing stage and demanded a sad note that the struggle isn’t over. Backward states using fear or cries of religious liberty to discriminate against anyone in the LGBT community is disheartening and scary, a clear example of how progress is often two steps forward and one back."