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‘And justice for all’ means everybody

When injustices are committed, it is the job of journalists to report the truth with objectivity and speak for those who do not have a voice. With gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals fighting for their rights, their voices are being stifled and overpowered by those in the Christian conservative movement. Speaking for the GLBT community, it’s time for this oppressive behavior to stop. Laws, bans and restrictions have been put into effect preventing GLBT individuals from fully living their lives, such as being in a government-recognized committed relationship or adopting children.

I did not always believe that the GLBT community deserved to win its struggle for rights. As a straight, Catholic individual, my faith and my beliefs guide my life. Because church leaders were saying the extension of full rights and privileges for gays was wrong, I in turn agreed with them. It probably sounds a bit naïve to just go along with someone else’s thinking, but this is what one learns when coming to college and evolving one’s critical thinking process.

Through meeting individuals who are fighting against these injustices and seeing them face to face, I came to a realization: It is not the government’s job to judge how individuals lives their lives and punish them if it differs from what it believes to be the norm. Those, such as myself, who believe in God or another higher power most likely share the belief that it is God or that higher power’s job to judge individuals. This is where the separation of church and state comes in, a practice that, when it comes to gay rights, has not been put into effect.

It is essential to have this separation, especially when it comes to marriage and civil unions.

Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which does not allow same-sex unions to be federally recognized. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 42 states in the union have statutes defining marriage and “three of those states have statutory language that pre-dates DOMA (enacted before 1996) defining marriage as between a man and a woman.” It seems that by preventing this federal recognition, Congress is just trying to avoid giving gay couples who wish to be married tax breaks and benefits that are entitled to married people. What makes it even worse is that the administration is doing this under the guise of following a certain set of morals, when it is really just trying to save itself some money.

Again, this goes along the lines of church and state. States should grant civil unions so that equality is being served to the nation’s people. But if religious institutions such as the Catholic Church want to continue to allow one man and one woman to wed, then that is its prerogative. This is why church and state are separated: to ensure fairness to all. Most heterosexual couples cannot imagine being unable to choose between getting married or simply living together. Homosexual couples do not even have an option.

The government has not shown itself to be following sound logic when it comes to other aspects of gay rights. This is especially evident in Florida: Gay couples are allowed to be foster parents, yet are not allowed to adopt children of their own. Those who work with adoptive children agree that the law doesn’t make sense.

“It doesn’t pass the logic test that you can be a good parent one day as a foster parent, and as an adoptive parent you’ll suddenly start developing new habits,” Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York, said to the Tampa Tribune. And just because each parent is anatomically different from the other does not necessarily mean that they are going to give their child a stable home life.

It seems as if the government, through its actions, is saying, “Well, we’ll give gays just enough rights so we don’t upset anybody on either side of the issue.”

What many fail to realize is that behind these prohibitive legislative measures, there are human beings whose lives and emotions are being negatively affected.

The GLBT community’s struggle for rights seems to have come to a head at this time in our history because “coming out of the closet” has become more socially acceptable, at least more than it was in the 1950s, when stars such as Rock Hudson or Liberace had to keep their preferences secret. Because the gay community as a whole has become louder and prouder as time has gone by, it is now demanding to be entitled to the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals. And rightfully so – “justice for all” is not some vague idea to be applied only to a select group, but should be afforded to all Americans.

Amanda Whitsitt is the Opinion editor and a junior majoring in mass communications.