I know this is slightly more to do with American Politics than British but I felt it was an important development.
November 4th 2008. A day to remember for all? Despite the euphoria of Obama's victory that evening something sinister was ratified in California, ironically one of the most 'liberal' states in The US. Proposition 8 as it is known, overturned rulings of the Californian Supreme court and amended the constitution of California to ban Gay Marriage. Proposition 8, thankfully, was itself overuled yesterday and hopefully for good.
I am not gay, neither are any of my close family. I have many friends who are, but to be truthful it is obvious the issue of gay rights has never affected me personally. The struggle for equality of all peoples is not a cause to be fought by only those who are affected. If it were not for good men and women who were white that braved persecution by association during the Civi Rights struggle and Apartheid how much longer would these systems have existed? The same is true for gay rights. Many who read this blog will notice how I often reference s.28 as one of the most shameful acts of the Thatcher years. And I believe this because I fundamentally believe that gay rights are civil rights and another articulation of the cause for equality.
Here in Britain we have come a long way since the 1980's. Civil Partnerships now allow Gay couples to enter into legal equivalent of mariage. The Human Rights act has been used to allow the same rights of succession in housing for gay couples. One of the most encouraging aspects of the last decade is now even the Conservative Party support Civil Parternships and gay rights. And even more suprisingly I believe, for the most part, its genuine. But the hesitation from many to recognize gay marriage reveals a nagging conservatism. Civil Partnerships not marriage. Seperate but equal (or sort of equal)? That is not full equality and the situation in the United States where only a few states allow any legal arrangement is much worse.
Part of my frustration is an inability to understand why so many people in California, of all places, voted not to espouse their beliefs, not to enrich their own lives but to deny their fellow citizens, their fellow human beings, the same civil rights they enjoy. Why can't they have what you have? How would you feel if someone told you that you can't marry? And then there are those who try to use religion to divide, moralize and to degrade the lives of others. My own religious beliefs enforce my beliefs on this issue even more rather than conflicting them. Did the people who voted for the gay marriage ban ever consider "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"?
The love of a fellow man or fellow woman is inextricably linked to the love of all our fellow man. The same compassion we all feel when we see injustice because of an arbitrary difference that we happened to be born with. In a world, where it seems all too often that the most selfish urges of human nature are always prevalentt and the evils of greed that lurk within all of us govern our actions, it sometimes seems a magnificent stroke of luck that one person would wish to commit the rest of their life with another. With teenage pregnancy rates sky high and merely 50% of marriages succeeding we should be so thankful that peope still wish for the chance to marry. And thats all it is. The Chance.
The history of these struggles tell us that in the end the forces of change will, in the final analysis, overcome those who would stand in the doorway and block the halls of progress. One day, even in the United States, equality will come. "The Moral Arc of the universe is long", Martin Luther King told us, "But it bends towards justice."
By Dominic from my blog 'A Public Service Announcement'.