Civil rights should be extended to all

tom.cory

Within the last century this nation has seen a lot of progress concerning civil rights, most of which can be viewed in a positive light, as many laws have been enacted to protect American citizens. Those advances aside, there is still a lot of work that can be done to extend civil rights to all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. For homosexual couples to experience the same rights and benefits endowed to heterosexual couples is the only truly righteous course for our nation if we are to continue to assert that this is indeed a land of the free.

With the recent passage of Proposal 8 in California, as well as similar measures in Arizona and Florida, many Americans are mourning a wave of discriminatory laws. These laws represent a clear line in the sand, as well as a step back in our progress toward becoming a truly civilized society. The laws have passed, but the fire it started is not out yet. These proposals represent one of America’s greatest barriers to securing civil rights for all.

When considering a civil right’s validity, the premise of the right must transcend any man-made prejudice. Therein lies the problem; many rights in question are man-made constructs which have been mistaken for being divine philosophies; such as marriage. While marriage has long been a benefit to society, there is nothing to prove that homosexual marriage will make the world stop spinning or cause any egregious harm.

Discriminatory laws such as Proposal 8 and Michigan’s own 2004 “Defense of Marriage Amendment,” ought to worry all minorities, not just homosexuals. Advocacy is not a monolithic entity, but requires many speaking for the few. Many in the opposition claim to represent traditional values, but there is no value more traditional than love.

In the end, both sides of the debate want a functioning society with moral obligations. Marriage itself is a moral contract made between individuals, so why should anyone seek to limit the selflessness that marriage brings?

The government ought to make marriage laws gender-blind, and let individuals stipulate the terms on which they wed. It is an issue of rights, not religious formalities.

Now is the hour for introspection and honesty, not delusion, because we have never been a nation of blond-haired blue-eyed heterosexuals. In this day and age, we as a society would never again accept any governmental unit that proudly displays a banner welcoming “whites only.”

Yet, so many in our great society seem to accept a government that proclaims “heterosexuals only” when extending rights. As a people, this nation has come far enough that it is hard for many born in the last 20 years to grasp what it meant to live in a polarized society with a defined margin, as America was during much of its history, and still is for all too many.

For some, these laws feel like a gunshot in the dark by a man who is now in the back pew, acting like nothing ever happened. Don’t be fooled; a large blow has been dealt to civil rights. Repercussions still permeate our society; Michigan’s own anti-gay marriage amendment just recently celebrated its four year anniversary, while countless happy couples only dreamt of celebrating their own.

While going forth in the battle for equal rights, whether homosexual or straight, please ask yourself whether or not it is OK for the government to formalize discrimination while placing religious ideologies as the crux of America’s moral center.

Hopefully, more Americans will look past ancient texts, and see what nations are capable of becoming once they reject prejudice and seek to make the world a prosperous land for all.