Equality for All…

Monday morning I saw a video of a man asking people why we celebrate July 4th, and the answers he received were appalling!  I have to hope that the video was edited down to remove the many people who actually knew the answer was that we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and that it happened in 1776, not 1985 as one woman stated.  But then I look around and see so many examples of people not knowing or understanding the fundamental principles that our nation was built on, and I have to wonder if videos like this don’t show the reality of our society.

In the past few weeks and months, there has been so much vitriol and hate over the idea of marriage equality in the news.  The religious right claims that allowing gay marriage somehow infringes upon their Constitutional right to freedom of religion.  They base many of their arguments on the Bill of Rights, but only refer to the first amendment.  I wonder if these people have ever read the Constitution or the even The Bill of Rights.

I am guilty of not reviewing these documents myself since my American History class back in high school (a long time ago), so I took it upon myself to read the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights again.    What I found is pretty much what I remembered:

    • All men are created equal.  I won’t go into the linguistics of this statement, but honestly, we are all human, we all bleed the same color blood, and we are all entitled to equality.
    • We all have the “unalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Nowhere does not say that we have the guaranteed right to be happy, only to pursue that what makes us happy.
    • Freedom of religion:  each of us is allowed to follow the religion of our choosing, without the government telling us we have to follow X, Y, or Z religion.  This does not mean that religion is to be absent from any part of our society, only that the government can’t make us all attend Sunday mass at the the local Catholic church, or to sing hallelujah at the southern Baptist churches located in the bible belt.
    • Freedom of speech:  we are able to say what we think without fear of censorship.  This does not mean that there are no repercussions for the things we say, only that the government does not have the authority of censorship.  Neither does this mean that people are free to say only the things you agree with.  If you are going to stand behind a freedom of speech argument, you have to be willing to tolerate your opponent’s stance just as strongly as you expect others to tolerate your stance.

I also found something that I had forgotten:  The 9th Amendment to the Constitution states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  Now I’m no Constitutional scholar, but that says to me that we cannot use the the fact that one right is specifically listed in the Constitution to deny another right that is not listed.

I would like to say to all of those people out there who are claiming that same-sex marriage somehow infringes upon their rights:

    1. If you are opposed to same-sex marriage, don’t participate in a same-sex relationship.
    2. A gay couple’s ability to get married in no way impacts your marriage.  If you think it does then you need to examine your own failings, not cast blame on others.
    3. Your freedom of religion does not give you the right to discriminate against anyone regardless of their race, sexual relationship status, or anything else (see “all men are created equal” above)

It is my opinion that all of those Americans who are so against equality for all need to take another look at the documents they claim supports their views.  We are all created equal.  We all have the right to pursue our own happiness.

I would also like to suggest that we need to get rid of the terms “gay marriage” or “same-sex” marriage and just call it what it is; marriage.

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