Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fight for Gay Rights!

The passing of Proposition 8 in California should be a signal to all of us that equal rights for gays and lesbians will not be granted until all of us- gay or not - take a stand as members of the human race to promote equality. I have drafted a letter below that I am planning on sending to my state congresspeople as well as my senators and governor. If you are disappointed in the result of the election in California, now is the time to take action. Please feel free to copy and paste this letter and send it to any and all politicians who represent you. Though I think that this, like most civil rights issues, will be resolved in the U.S. Supreme court, I think that it is time that our representatives hear from us. Folks who are against gay marriage have been extremely vocal and have instilled in politicians a fear that they will lose their seats if they legislate to grant equal rights to gays and lesbians. I, for one, want my representatives to know that I support equal rights, and won't be satisfied with their performance until they do as well.
You can find your senators' emails on this website:
This is such an important civil rights issue; the fact that we don't extend to gay and lesbian citizens the same rights that straight citizens enjoy is unconstitutional and has no basis in protecting the well-being of the nation. President Elect Obama (yay!) reminds us that we are our brothers' (and sisters') keepers. It is all of our responsibilities to ensure that equal rights and protections are extended to all people, regardless of their race, gender, creed, or sexuality. Please read the following letter, feel free to edit it, and send it to your representatives, and forward it on to your friends and family.

Dear ____,

When this country was founded, our forefathers proclaimed that all men are created equal. Though at the time, they may not have meant all men, during the growth of our great nation, we have extended equal rights and equal protections to women and people of all races and creeds. Yet we still systematically discriminate against, and deny basic rights to, our gay brothers and sisters. This is simply un-American.

Taking a stance against gay marriage, or defining marriage as a union between a man or a woman, has no basis in sound public policy; these are merely mechanisms of fear and bigotry. Some of your constituents may argue that it is the government's job to protect the sanctity of marriage. Indeed it is. It is the government's responsibility to protect the right to enter into marriage and be granted the full privileges and protections contained therein for any and all consenting adults who would like to formalize their loving relationship.

Today, we tout the racial diversity of our country as one of the strengths of the nation. However, it was just 43 years ago that anti-miscegenation laws were overturned. The language used to defeat gay marriage echoes the language used to spread anti-miscegenation sentiments. The marriage of white and non-white people was described in 1912 as "un-American" and "destructive of moral supremacy" (Congressional Record, 62d. Congr., 3d. Sess., December 11, 1912, pp. 502-503). These laws, like laws that do not allow gay people to marry, reflected a tyranny of the majority. Likewise, in 1965, the trial court judge who heard Loving v. Virginia asserted that God clearly did not intend for people of different races to marry, as evidenced by their existence on different continents. Although God's intent is a compelling argument for churches to discriminate, the government has no place legislating the intent of God. The separation of church and state was built into our nation at its inception. Clearly, these laws were as un-American as they claimed interracial marriage was; however, it took a wave of states passing laws and a supreme court case to overturn them. The fabric of our society has not crumbled as anti-miscegenation proponents feared. Rather, interracial marriages have contributed to the American story of diversity and have produced children who are integral to its plot, a point perhaps best illustrated by the family background of our president elect.

As someone who has power in the government, this is your chance to land on the right and just side of history. It is not the time to stand idly by while someone else does the right thing or to hedge your political bets by supporting such compromises as civil unions. It is not the time to be complacent about injustice inflicted on a minority group because you are in the majority. Just as blacks in the Civil Rights movement needed white allies in their fight for justice, our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters need straight allies. It is our responsibility as Americans, and as human beings, to declare that policies of inclusiveness will only make our union more perfect. The choice you face is to look the other way while gays and lesbians face discrimination and bigotry, or to join in the fight for justice. You can be content with saying that a bill won't pass or a constituency won't support gay marriage, or you can work to change your context. The beauty of the American story is that each of us stands on the shoulders of those who came before us, fighting for justice. Without people who were willing to standing up for justice, blacks and women would not be able to vote, schools would still be segregated, interracial marriages would be illegal, and employers would still be able to pay women less than men for the same work. Now is the time to become the shoulders upon which future generations will stand. This is the moment in history when you have an opportunity to be remembered as someone who fought for justice.

The supreme court in Loving contends that marriage is "one of the 'basic civil rights of man'". It is unacceptable that these civil rights are offered to some of our nation's citizens and not to others. Allowing gay people to marry will not erode the moral fabric of America; it will only affirm that we are a people who celebrate our diversity, we are a nation that recognizes that a family consists of two adults who love each other, we are a country that stands up for the rights of minority groups. There are no fiscal, social, or historical reasons why same-sex marriages should not be legalized. The only remaining argument against gay marriage is a moral one. However, we cannot allow a tyranny of the (slim) majority. Our nation prides itself on its commitment to protect minority groups and to extend civil rights to all. Until our friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers who are gay are granted the same rights and protections that all other citizens are granted, a great dichotomy will exist between the nation's ideals and its actions. This is your chance to make sure that the laws of this great country reflect our pride in our inclusiveness and diversity. The fabric of our society will become stronger, and the story of American diversity will continue to evolve in the right direction.

**you can end this letter with a paragraph specifying actions that you would like to see taken; if you would like to see a bill introduced in congress (this is a states issue, but could be made a federal issue- there has already been a constitutional amendment proposed that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman), if you would like your state senator to introduce a bill to the state assembly, etc.

Phone Number

1 comment:

Meg Blocker said...

I will be papering my reps when I get back from Paris...count me IN, baby.