Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gay Rights are Human Rights

Last month, just three days before we headed to Spain and amidst a frenzy of laundry, packing, collations, and copyedits, I put everything on hold and drove to the North Carolina state capitol in the middle of the day. My purpose was to join the rally in support of gay marriage/in opposition to a proposed state constitutional amendment banning it. It was time for me to put actions with my words. It was time to add my voice to the chorus, to speak for myself rather than hope or expect that someone else will do it for me.

While we rallied on the lawn outside the chambers, where inside the Senate was voting whether to put said constitutional amendment on the ballot in May, speakers took to the stage to denounce not only the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage but also the fact of allowing a majority to vote on a minority's rights. The speakers represented a range of faiths, races, social classes, occupations, ages, and sexual orientations. Some spoke angrily; others spoke eloquently. In-between, the crowd cheered, waved their homemade signs, and yelled "Shame on you" at the chambers and the few lawmakers that gathered on its balcony after the Senate voted in favor of putting the amendment on the ballot.

I heard a lot of arguments that afternoon about why the ban was bad news. They ranged from it being bad for business, to there not being a need for a ban because NC law already prevents gay marriage, to there being bigger and more important things for the NC legislature to worry about. All of these are true. And I'm in favor of any argument that will get people to come out in May and vote against the amendment (or stay home in May if they planned to vote for it). However, I find all of these arguments to be superfluous. As far as I'm concerned there is only one argument, and it is spelled out in the Declaration of Independence: "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.

Denying homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered people the right to marry the person of their choosing is a declaration that they are, in fact, not equal. It is a denial of their right to Liberty and  their right to pursue Happiness. Because we live in a secular country, it is as simple as that.

Today is National Coming Out Day. Next week is Ally Week. The fight for equal rights in this country is not one that should be fought alone by those whose rights have been denied but one that should be fought by all people who believe in a just world, who believe in that second sentence of our Constitution. It is our job to speak out not because we are gay or know someone who is, but because we are human and because this is an issue of human rights.

Please take the time to stand up and make your voice heard. Even if this isn't an issue on the docket in your state right now, it is a pressing issue nonetheless. Our voices need to be heard constantly and consistently until all people in this country, regardless of sexual orientation, have full and equal rights. Don't say this isn't your fight. You are human, aren't you?

Comments, as always, are welcome, even those with conflicting viewpoints, so long as those views are presented in an inoffensive and rational manner. Any comments I deem to be inflammatory or hateful will, however, be immediately deleted. It's my blog, and I believe in civility. If you don't, please go away.