This week the American people achieved a huge milestone. We collectively elected this country’s first African American President. A truly intelligent and compassionate man who will surely lead us both sternly and confidently. However, during this week when we have been basking in the glow of an “Obamanation,” it would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the clouds that threaten to drown out some of the sunshine. No one would argue that we did not make a big leap forward in terms of race relations, but we left our gay and lesbian friends and family in the dust.
Three states (California, Florida and Arizona) voted on propositions that ban gay marriage, and Arkansas went equally as far by banning gays from adopting children. This is an abomination. How can we claim to be a country where “all men are created equal,” and then turn around and treat a large part of our population as second class citizens. We expect gay people to pay taxes, uphold societies laws and be upstanding citizens, but we don’t want to afford them the simple right to hospital visitation, inheritance rights and the happiness of having a family? How is this fair? How is this equality? How is this American?
Gay people have been around for a long time. They were there in biblical times, they are here today and they will still be around 100 years from now. No amount of propositions or laws is going to change that. Many religious people try to disguise their support of these bans by talking about the “muddying” up of the term marriage, or the fact that they don’t want their kids to learn about gay marriage in school. I’m sorry, but this is bullshit. I am a fairly religious Jew, and I can safely say that I have no trouble at all with gay people getting married. If certain church’s or synagogues do, then they don’t need to preform the marriages. No one is trying to legislate any laws mandating churches to marry gay people. No one is even bringing religion into this fight except the churches themselves! Furthermore, straight people don’t have such a high ground to stand on when it comes to marriage, being that about 50% of today’s marriages end in divorce. So as for “muddying up the institution of marriage” I think we’ve got that covered. Lastly, I don’t ever remember learning about marriage in school. If by chance a child should learn about gay people in school, why is that so threatening? What is so scary about gay people? They don’t have horns, they aren’t devilish horrid individuals, they’re just people. Average doctors, lawyers and carpenters who are trying to go about their daily lives the same way you and I do.
I celebrated a lot this week. You couldn’t have wiped the smile off my face if you tried. Unfortunately, the week was marred for all of us by ignorance and fear of “the other.” This is the same fear that lead to the Holocaust, the Japanese internment camps and the genocide in Darfur. This is the same fear and maligning that has led to the racism that we so proudly claim to have overcome by electing Barack Obama. I hope and pray that someday soon we are able to see this for what it is. Not a group of people who are out to corrupt our children and force thier lifestyles on everyone, but simply a group of men and women who just want equality, acceptance and the freedom to live thier daily lives just like the rest of us.