Speaking of Women's Rights: There Is No More Time To Wait

Monday, July 27, 2009

There Is No More Time To Wait

I know a number of people who don’t believe in marriage: gay, straight, bi, young, old, you name it. I’m sure this would cause those on both sides of the marriage equality debate – both of whom tout marriage as the “backbone of our society,” to faint, or at the very least lose faith in humanity. What you might find interesting is that even among these non-marriage-prone folks, support for marriage equality abounds. Why, you ask? Because marriage equality isn’t just about marriage…it’s about equality. Hmmm. Who would’ve figured?

Though I’m feeling rather triumphant that the Matthew Shephard Hate Crime Bill passed the Senate today and will be on its way to the President’s desk shortly, I’m well aware that this is not the full answer to preventing violence against LGBT individuals. Equality promotes acceptance. As (wise beyond his years) 17-year-old James Neiley testified to the Vermont Legislature back in February, “Without marriage equality, the boys in the locker room during gym class who harassed me are encouraged to believe that my sexuality means there is something different, wrong, and lesser about me.”

There have been far too many violent crimes committed against LGBT individuals to date, crimes motivated by ignorance and hatred. I can’t help but think that there’s a direct correlation between how our laws treat LGBT individuals and families, and how they are treated by their neighbors, coworkers, and fellow citizens.

For this reason I have a hard time when someone tells me to be patient and let the anti-equality movement have their “death rattle.” There is no more time to wait. Equality is about acceptance and acceptance means safety for those who are currently being persecuted for their sexual orientation. As long as discrimination is allowed to exist in our government system, as long as LGBT people are treated as “lesser than” by the laws we pass, as long as it is against the law to simultaneously serve in the military and make your sexual identity known, the violence and hatred will continue. This is why we need LGBT rights now; not a few rights, not most rights, but ALL rights.