Separate is not, and never has been, equal

Kim Green

I do not care, plain and simple. Sounds apathetic, right? But I think apathetic is the last word I would use to describe how I feel about breaking down “one of the last legalized barriers to equal rights.”

I have struggled for quite some time with people who feel so passionate about being against same-sex marriage and feel the need to defend their idea of a “traditional” marriage and family. All marriage is a contract between two people who join together for love and benefits. I believe no one should be denied these rights because of his or her sexual orientation.

Kim Green

When contemplating what to write about this topic, I consulted someone who I rarely ever see eye-to-eye with as far as politics go: my Midwestern-raised, conservative father. He enlightened me with a very simple statement: “We are all suppose to be equal in this country, aren’t we?” If he can see it this way, why can’t everyone else?

My feelings for equality do not stem from how I was raised, or the people I have surrounded myself with thus far in my life, as I do not have many gay friends or acquaintances. It is the fundamentals of rights and freedoms that our country is founded on, but chooses to withhold by separating groups of people and placing them in categories.

Many states have justified this separation by granting civil unions that provide legal protection to couples at the state level but omits federal protection. Many states see this as an effective form of separate but equal, but I see this as being just as effective and successful as the first time our country tried it out.

In 1974, the Supreme Court decided in Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur that “freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.” If this was stated 38 years ago, why is it still an issue?

This all began long before the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. Our country has been categorizing anyone it deemed different as undeserving of freedom since the founding of this country.

The Founding Fathers boldly declared to the rest of the world that America is a ground-breaking democracy where ‘all men were created equal.’ But, they really were not referring to what we today perceive as ‘all men.’ They were, however, speaking about white men of European descent.

When reading a section in my textbook for Sociology: Race and Ethnicity on colonialism, William Muck said: “Forced to justify the practice of slavery in the self-professed land of individual freedom, colonial Americans gravitated towards the ideology and science of race. If liberty was the natural order of things, the only way to deny a group of individual that entitlement was to invent a category which defined that group of people as somehow different and naturally interior.”

Unfortunately, we are still doing this today.

With seven states making the defining accomplishment by legalizing gay marriage, it is not hard to see that one day, all gay Americans will be granted the right to marry – it just may take some time.

In the 1960s, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, my father was just about my age. When learning about it in history books, it feels like centuries ago. Someday I can only hope my children will feel the same way and will be able to reap the benefits of the fight for equality unfolding right before our eyes.