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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Equal Rights for all

Published: February 8, 2008
Section: Opinions

02070802.jpg“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence, 1776

Do you believe the above statement? I do. Of all of the principles that our country was founded upon, I feel that this one is the most important, and the most worthy of defending. This is why I am writing today.

Although I am not a member of the gay community, I am appalled by how homosexual Americans have been treated over the years. I would have thought that after all of the Civil Rights movements that have occurred in our nations history, after all the freedom marches and protests, we would have learned our lesson. We have not.

Let me attempt to outline the situation. In the US, there is only one state that allows gay marriage, and that is the state of Massachusetts. There are also a few states that allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, which are essentially watered-down versions of marriage that lack many of its legal benefits. Now, some supporters of gay rights view this as progress, but I am afraid that it doesn’t matter. Many Americans are not aware of this, but the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 is still in effect, and renders all state marriage laws virtually useless to gay couples. The act does this by defining marriage as “a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife”, and not requiring states or the Federal Government to recognize the marriage or union of same-sex couples.

This means that even same-sex couples married in Massachusetts can be denied the federal and state legal benefits that would normally apply to marriage. In case you didn’t know, there are about 1400 of these benefits. This doesn’t sound very fair to me, but apparently it sounded just fine to President Clinton and the majority of Congress, who all supported this law twelve years ago.

But wait, there’s more. You would think that Defense of Marriage Act was enough, but I haven’t even begun to talk about all of the states that have constitutionally banned same-sex unions. They are motivated by the dying, yet still active conservative movement, which has not given up on so-called “moral issues”. The conservative claim is, as we all know, that America, as a primarily Christian nation, should reject the immoral lifestyles of the gay community. I have two issues with this.

First, it seems like the conservative movement has ignored the fact that in America, we have a separation of church and state (then again, I don’t know if Americans have ever paid attention to that). Second, I have met several homosexuals in my life, all of whom are convinced that they did not choose to be the way they are, and I seriously doubt that any person has ever made that choice. This means that the government is basically punishing citizens for being born.

So, to all Americans, do no forget that gay Americans are still your countrymen, and deserve their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Everyone is equal in this country, no matter who they are or where they come from, and no one should be denied rights for being themselves.