In light of the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. day celebration, civil rights is one topic on our minds at Deerfield. In the 1950’s and 60’s, African-Americans fought to pass the Civil Rights Act, which gave them rights equal to those of Caucasians.
A comparable movement today in the U.S. is the fight for equal rights for homosexuals. Just as African-Americans fought against segregation, gays are currently fighting for civil marriage. However, in an even broader sense, both movements are about simply being accepted.
This fight for acceptance is relevant, especially on the Deerfield campus. Just think about the gay young men such as Seth Walsh who committed suicide just months ago because peers tormented and harassed them for their sexual orientation.
This issue not remote, either. Recently, a Deerfield teacher reminded us not to swear or say sexual slurs having to do with homosexuality at wrestling matches.
I would have thought that Deerfield students would be more accepting and have more respect for people who are different from themselves.
Earlier in the year, the Deerfield Gay Straight Alliance held its annual coming-out day, where students had the opportunity either to share a personal part of themselves with the community, or to announce their support for students who have sexual preferences other than heterosexuality.
I was not one of those brave students who stood on the stage that day and pronounced their support for gay rights, and I must say, I am ashamed of myself, for it is my firm belief that everyone in this world is equal and should have equal rights.
Ten countries now have legalized gay marriage, but only five U.S. states and Washington, D.C. have legalized gay marriage. Those fighting against gay marriage would argue that just being together is enough. Some even see sexual preferences other than heterosexuality as a sin.
But being allowed to live together without being prosecuted is not enough. If a man who loves a woman is allowed to have a big, happy wedding with the whole family, why shouldn’t gays be allowed to do the same? If all people are created equal, one of America’s basic doctrines proposes, then all people should be entitled to the same rights. If being allowed to live together is supposed to be “enough” for a gay or lesbian couple, then why are heterosexual couples treated differently and allowed to marry?
One of the few arguments still standing in opposition of gay marriage is the idea that the purpose of marriage is to “procreate,” and because two people of the same gender cannot reproduce they should not be allowed to marry.
However, even this argument is no longer effective. If a couple is lesbian, they can have children by artificial insemination. A same-sex couple cannot have a biological child together, they can still adopt and raise a child. There are currently many kids in the foster care system who are in need of loving families—which these couples could provide. In fact, what about heterosexual couples who are infertile or choose not to have children? By this rule, they, too, should not be allowed to marry. It would be better just to let everyone marry.
Marriage, by my definition, is about love and commitment. Who that person is should not matter. Made a common phrase by Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 Gettysburg Address, I believe that all people “are created equal.”This principle applies to the issue of gay rights, and rights issues of any kind. If some are allowed to do something, then everyone should be given that privilege. If heterosexual couples are allowed to “get hitched,” or “join together in holy matrimony,” same-sex couples should, too.
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