Tuesday, May 15, 2012

State by State Civil Rights?

Women Worked Long and Hard
Yes, I am glad that our frightened, ultra-cautious, politically pandering president gave a grudging nod to same-sex marriage after a swift one to the behind by butt-kicker, Joe Biden. But I am not happy with the sentence he used to qualify his decision, the one relating to Sasha and Malia friends who have very nice, acceptable queer parents. Civil rights should not be dependent on niceness or acceptability. Even the craziest and nastiest minority members deserve to be treated as human beings.

Same-sex marriage rights, or other civil rights for minorities have and will continue to lose when put up for a vote by the majority. The pitches for these votes repeatedly call upon representing "the will of the people." But exactly who are the people? I have always been deluded into believing that I am one of them.

Women did not win suffrage by a majority vote. It was through prolonged political struggle. Not until 1920 did the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution pass giving over one half of the population the right to determine their own destinies through the ballot box. The first stirrings of that movement occurred as far back as the 1820's, one-hundred years earlier.

So many of us will not live to see victory for LGBT civil rights. By victory, I mean full federal constitutional protections on every level, from health care, to job discrimination, to immigration, inheritance, tax law, everything that heterosexuals take for granted. These rights extend far beyond the simple concept of marriage. They are the building blocks that could help create a foundation of a fair and equal society, at least on paper.