For one Carrboro woman, life is finally normal.
Lindsay Carroll and her partner of nine years, Desiree Peterson, got married the day the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 overturned North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban. Saturday marks their one-year marriage anniversary.
“A lot of the worry is gone now,” Carroll said. “Being able to do our taxes together, knowing that our legal affairs are in order — like any other married couple. It’s all a reality now.”
A little more than eight months after the federal appeals court decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a historic 5-4 vote to legalize gay marriage nationwide.
But activists say full equality is a long way off.
Lauren Martin, president of UNC’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance, said she was concerned people in the LGBT community would think there was little to do after the legalization of gay marriage.
“We still need to respond to trans issues, erasure of other identities and laws that allow discrimination in the workplace,” she said. “Marriage equality is fantastic, but we still have more to do.”
After North Carolina’s ban was overturned, the LGBT advocacy group Equality N.C. promised to push again for a nondiscrimination bill during the General Assembly’s 2015 session.
“Unfortunately, it’s yet to come out of committee,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality N.C. “While it’s likely to see bipartisan support in the next legislative session, it hasn’t moved this year because — in the shadow of marriage equality — it’s not seen as that big of an issue.”
Legalizing gay marriage has also opened the door for other issues, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said.
Lavelle married her longtime partner, Alicia Stemper, immediately following the 4th Circuit decision last year.
“There are a lot of questions around parenting,” she said. “Most state statutes are written in terms of a man and a woman. In North Carolina, for example, if a man and a woman are married, and the woman has a child, the man is presumed to be the father. But what about a woman and a woman?”
Martin said she worried that after jumping as big a hurdle as marriage equality, the LGBT movement would experience some disunity.
“It’s hard to get people motivated to achieve more goals when we already worked so hard for this one,” she said. “It’s hard to keep up the passion.”
Lavelle said the general public sees marriage as the big legal right gay people were seeking, but there are more issues to be addressed.
“We have to look at it like any other civil rights movement,” she said. “Just because we passed the Civil Rights Act didn’t mean racism was eradicated. Just because women got the right to vote didn’t mean women could just assume positions of power.”
Carroll said it’s important people stay involved and motivated for those who still need help. But she’s also excited about how boring her life has become.
“I’m married, we adopted two puppies from the shelter, and that’s what’s taking up a lot of our time,” she said. “It’s a good feeling.”