Saturday, December 18, 2010

The End of Don't Ask Don't Tell, The Beginning of Tomorrow

Today will go down in history as one of the most important victories in the fight for equal rights in this country since the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861. The United States Senate voted to repeal the despicable "Don't Ask Don't Tell" rule that had been preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces since the Clinton administration. This is a monumental step forward in the evolution of our nation toward an equal and just society.

For too long gays and lesbians have been forced to live their lives in the shadows. Our country is one of the last civilized nations in the world to recognize LGBT people as more than second class citizens. The legalized brutality that the LGBT community has had to endure for more years than most people care to count has done much to diminish the world of people who are American citizens, entitled to the same rights as any other US citizen, but who've been pushed into the background, being told that they can't have their constitutional rights, while idiots like John McCain have led crusades to excuse and further this discrimination. I wonder if he's been revived since the Senate vote. (Little laugh.)

People have grown tired of having to accept that they can't live their lives as openly and as freely as other citizens of this country. The LGBT community has suffered at the hands of the religious dominations that have influenced the lawmakers of this land for far, far too long. These people are no longer willing to step aside and live their lives in secret because the Constitution says they don't have to do that. Every citizen of this nation is entitled to the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of expression, set down as law by the founding fathers of our country. I for one think it's a damn shame that people have had to demand their equal rights in the first place.

With the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," other challenges to equal rights will soon follow the same fate. The debate over same sex marriage has always been a moot point in the first place, but now it won't stand a chance to keep people from marrying who they please. Love is universal. In antiquity, gays and lesbians were not treated as sub human species either. Bisexuality was also a very common practice in the ancient world. It wasn't until the religion known as Christianity came to prominence that those who loved differently found themselves forced hide their true selves. A couple of millenia filled with persecution, torture, and ostracism has finally festered into a boil that is erupting all over the place. You can't make people live lives that aren't natural to them; you just can't do that. The struggle and the fight for equal rights that we're seeing now is what you get when you try.

In many ways, the civil rights movement is mirrored in what's happening now. A minority of people, born in this country, as human as anybody else walking around, was denied even the most rudimentary of rights - their freedom - all because of the color of their skin. A war was fought to end slavery but another century had to pass before the bonds of segregation were finally broken. Now there is another minority, having been denied their own civil rights because of their sexual preference, who are rising up as a whole and saying that they will tolerate no more of such treatment because of who they are. They are taking to the streets protesting what has been foisted upon them by an unjust society and demanding that their lawmakers force the recognition of their rights. Yes, there are very clear parallels here. Lets just hope it doesn't take another century to right the wrongs of the past.

The world is forever changing. So are the thought patterns of modern man. What was accepted without question in decades past is no longer relevant in today's world. This is the 21st Century and nobody has to bow to another simply because anymore. No one should be made to be ashamed of who they are or who they love. And nobody should be denied the right to live as freely as anybody else. It's that simple. The religious conversatives who've opposed equal rights for LGBT Americans are simply going to have to accept that there are other points of view which are as just as valid and just as equal as theirs. They don't have to embrace it, they don't even have to like it, but they do have to admit that they have no right to force their beliefs on other people. Trying to do just that is why we're in this situation right now.

Yes, today is an important day in the history of our country. It's the day when our government took the first real steps toward creating a society where people can live freely and equally, where nobody has to hide themselves in the shadows anymore, and where no one can deny a person his civil rights because he happens to be different. The definition of equality is taking on a new sheen right before our very eyes.

Let's celebrate it.

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