It might be helpful if you understand that marriage equality is only one of the remaining civil rights in the struggle for equal rights for gay people that started over a hundred years ago, and emerged in the US in 1924, only to be shut down by the police.<quoted text> I'm saying that many, including myself, don't consider same sex marriage on a par with civil rights or the struggle that blacks endure. As you may or may not know, I don't support same sex marriage myself (preferring domestic partnership or civil unions) and don't equate it with civil rights. My guess is that you'll disagree and I'm fine with a healthy disagreement, especially from you since I hope you know the respect I have for you. I don't ask anybody to agree with me, nor will there be any great gnashing of teeth from me if, or more likely when as George Clooney said, it will inevitably pass. When and if it passes, I still won't agree with it, and it will be the law of the land and so be it. I reserve the right to disagree with some laws even while living with them.
Did that clarify or confuse the issue?
In the recent past, it was illegal simply to be gay, and being found out could result in anything from fines and public exposure leading to being fired, kicked out of your home, or imprisonment for life, and torture with emetics, electric shock, castration, and lobotomies. So part of the gay rights struggle has included the legal right to simply exist. The last laws outlawing simply being gay were not removed until 2003, and had to be removed by the Supreme Court, in Lawrence. Some of those unconstitutional laws remain on the books, and while unenforceable in any court, they are still used to detain and harass gay people.
DADT, which required punishment simply for being authentically gay, was only removed last year, and Santorum and others want to bring it back. Adoption continues to be legally denied in some places, as do protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations guaranteed to others based on choice of religious beliefs.
Hopefully this helps you understand the struggle for marriage equality is just one of the remaining legal hurdles gay people have been fighting to overcome our entire lives. No gay American has yet lived in full legal equality in the land that promises liberty and justice for ALL.