Aside from running until I'm out of breath, when I feel frustrated about a particular topic, I choose to write about it. My teachers tell me I'm pretty good at writing, so it's good practice. About a week ago I was busy seething over the outcome in Maine and the general injustice of the country that I very grudgingly love.

I read a comment by someone bringing up the Federalist Papers and decided to peruse the two specifics mentioned (10 and 51, we'd already skimmed some as a part of my Government class) myself, and then write an essay to blow off some steam. I simply became inspired. This is what came out of it- totally unedited and unrevised and just vomited up in under an hour. I really don't know where else I can put it, honestly, without it just sitting here taking a few KBs of space on my computer.

I realize that I can't make people care about my issues. I wish I could. I wish I could open their eyes so they could see the mess they're standing in and wholeheartedly ignoring. Day by day, my peers go from class to class worrying about nothing more than college and who they'll go to the dance with the next day. They seem totally oblivious that the things they're enjoying and taking for granted are nothing more than priviledges that others don't have.

While they're doing that, I'm doing the same as well. I do have college to worry about (really gotta start on that…ahem) and scholarships and there's definitely a guy on my mind. But there's something more. I'm fighting for my civil rights. I have been since I was 16. It's bittersweet. Now, 18 years old, I fought for R-71 and voted in favour of it, and I won. I changed the world and made history. Even now I still feel as though I'm walking on air. How many of my peers can honestly say they've done this? I suppose this is just one of the main things that keeps me going. I've got an obligation to everyone, gay or straight, to make what is right happen.

Oh, you wanted that essay, right? It's after the jump.

 

(P.S: Louise, I don't know where you got that quote, but I've always been an aphorist. I love it to bits.)

A Modern Injustice

November 6, 2009

“It goes on one at a time, it starts when you care to act, it starts when you do it again after they said no, it starts when you say We and know who you mean, and each day you mean one more.”

 Just over two centuries ago, the pen name of Publius produced essays that can surely be regarded as works of art- elaborations on the beauty of a Constitution and its government, for the people and by the people, establishing the supreme law of the land. In two places he touched on the issues of democracy: in the 10th and 51st papers. He aptly notes that pure democracies “have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

The essential key to a republic form of government, differentiating our own from all others, is the concept of minority protection. A pure democracy is clearly nothing short of mob rule, but a republic promises to safeguard the fundamental rights of all its peoples. It is a basic promise of humanity and fair treatment.

 Yet, the republic and its concept fails us today.

  Our Tenth Amendment simply declares that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Over years, the meaning of this amendment has been distorted. It was formulated not as a sword to be used by the several states to abridge the fundamental rights of social and political minorities as it has now. Rather, it was to be a shield to protect the states from federal tyranny and to expedite achievement of “the promise of liberty”.  This is the premise established in the Supreme Court case of Gregory v. Ashcroft. This was further supported in the 1937 case of Palko v. Connecticut where the Court felt that our democracy “assumes that there are some areas of life a majority should not control. There are some things a majority should not do to us no matter how democratically it decides to do them.”

 Currently this principle seems to be wholly ignored. Namely, this author speaks plainly of the rights of LGBT minorities in our country. He wishes to direct your attention to that elephant in the room- perhaps it is of a slightly pink shade, maybe rainbow, and very well dressed, but nonetheless, there it is.

 Some prefer to argue that the “people have spoken” in regards to gay rights. Truly, they have, yet they forget the principle of a republic discussed earlier. The people have spoken, but this is not something that should be open to discussion. There are some areas of life a majority should not control. Equality remains a fundamental promise of the American philosophy- the philosophy that supersedes all other faiths and creeds. Yet, somehow, by regular vote, the rights of a minority are continually repressed and removed altogether as if, through some machination of the powers that be, they were born less American than one’s peers. Somehow, for over a century, this is a concept that has been legally supported through laws on every conceivable level of government. As of January 1, 2009, thirty states have constitutional amendments explicitly barring the recognition of same-sex marriage. Nineteen states ban any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage. Six states explicitly ban adoption by any homosexual couples.

 Dear reader, please consider these statistics a moment. 60% of the states actively and legally discriminate against fellow Americans. Nineteen, in their most simple form, ban legal recognition of equality. These do not include states that simply turn a blind eye towards same-sex partnerships.

 Some voters tout this as upholding tradition; others argue it is a part of their religious beliefs. In every conceivable form, these arguments are simply wrong.

 To the first: there is but one tradition of true value in America- the promise of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Equal protection under the law and all aspects. Again, these are principles both the government and the people cannot infringe upon. It is not the government’s malign duty to restrict or warp these principles to suit the whims of those in power; it is instead their solemn responsibility to uphold and enforce what is one of America’s most important founding beliefs.

 To the second, as stated previously: the American creed, ratified and embodied in the Constitution of the United States, supersedes all other beliefs. The founding fathers were largely of the Deist opinion that the Christian God does not directly interfere in the mundane affairs of men. Granted, Separation of Church and State was only a fledgling principle at the time of ratification, adopted as a change from the previous British restrictions on running for office and employed to ensure total Anglican rule of the British Empire. To these ends, beliefs from every corner of the globe arrived in hordes of tired, huddled masses to settle in a nation that was a beacon of prosperity in an otherwise grim and oppressive world. Yet, somehow, the first immigrants of this land – the British and their Christian descendants- seem to have found it fit to extend the first promise- freedom of practice – into freedom of imposition. To this day, this hyperextension of power remains the true threat to the Constitution- not any homosexual menace, touting immoral and unchristian values, but rather a group of people seeking to turn our republic into nothing more than a democratic theocracy. Simply put, the legislation of religious beliefs is but poorly disguised theocracy, and restriction of homosexual rights is just one step towards this end.

 To posit this in a way as bold as possible- marriage is not a religious institution. It may have, at one point in time, been this way, but in America this is no longer possible. Separation of Church and State remains a principle in the nation. If marriage were a truly religious institution then, logically, marriage would have absolutely no bearing on our law. Yet, several of our laws are indeed built around the institution of marriage. A married couple receives several legal, economic and social benefits just by being joined in union. However, one heinous law in particular, laid out in the Federal Defense of Marriage Act passed during the Clinton administration, explicitly bars all federal recognition of same-sex marriages. In addition, it appallingly backhands the Constitution by allowing states to ignore the Full Faith and Credit clause- same-sex marriages performed in one state may be freely ignored in others.

 To those less studied, this may seem like a minor issue. “Gays cannot get married- what’s the problem? What does a marriage afford them?” Dear reader, rest assured, chances are it affords you much more than it currently does them. Overall, due to the federal disregard for same-sex marriages, same-sex couples are denied 1,137 federal rights granted to heterosexual married couples. Count them. One thousand, one hundred, thirty seven rights. Allow me to now dispel the argument that gays ask for ‘special rights’ when seeking equality- 1,137 federal rights are reserved for a special group of people and denied to others. This special group of people is in fact the majority of America enjoying rights that have been freely denied to the minority. Call this principle out for what it is- this is nothing more than gay apartheid, and it must be stopped.

 When one currently speaks of ‘same sex marriage’, one typically speaks of couples being married in Vermont, or Connecticut, or Iowa. However, one rarely realizes that this is true marriage only on the state level. They are guaranteed all rites ratified in the state’s constitution, but nothing beyond that. To this extent, same-sex couples are denied several rights- no, priviledges– that others take for granted. If one’s opposite-sex spouse has been rushed to the hospital, all one has to say is that the person in question is their spouse, and they are allowed to see them without delay. However, through some perverse double standard, same-sex couples are treated with open suspicion and are required to present hundreds of dollars worth of legal papers that ultimately provide them with barely half of the rights promised to their fellow man. Assuming the couple in question is not married, they must first degrade themselves with a statement of ‘That is my partner.’, at which point the hospital staff may see it fit to deny them entrance. Several times in the past decade, this particular situation has lead to same-sex families being denied the priviledge of seeing their loved ones in their final hours. This is nothing short of appalling and inhumane treatment given to fellow American citizens.

 Somehow, governments across the nation, even on the federal level, see fit to turn a blind eye to these issues. This extends to all branches, including the judiciary, which has not yet on a federal level taken on a case relating to these issues. Instead, we are forced to crawl, inch by inch, towards our own equality. State by state, city by city we are forced to fight on a daily basis for the rights endowed to others by virtue of their own birth. Several times we have lost, oppressed by a staggering degree of moral bankruptcy that infests every level of the American system. Thirty one times states have put up fundamental rights for LGBT citizens and thirty one times they have succeeded in repealing them. This is not something that should be questionable by virtue of the Constitution, yet the elected power of America continues to ignore continued injustice contradictorily supported in our own legal system. Justice delayed is justice denied.

 Ultimately, I write this only as a call to action to all those who would read it. To my readers that have perused this with consideration and perhaps given it a great deal of thought, I present you with two options. The first, that you simply turn your back and walk away, never to think of this again, willingly ignoring what is plain injustice in your own country that safeguards everything you take for granted. The second is that you keep my words with you, and keep this struggle in your thoughts at the very least. We cannot, by any means, force you to join us, though your support is always welcome. You have an opportunity truly make history by liberating what may be one of the last legally discriminated against minorities in the nation. At the least, I ask for nothing more than your vote. At best, I can hope for no more than your voice.

Reiuji

Reiuji

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