To marry, to live long and prosper

By Lee Feder

Just over five years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, one of the biggest promoters of civil rights, the first televised interracial kiss occurred. On “Star Trek.” Liberal geeks everywhere rejoiced. Sadly, that episode aired forty years ago, showing that there was still a strong social stigma in the country against interracial relationships. Mercifully, we have since made great strides in opening our collective minds, but the fight for civil rights and a more perfect union is never-ending.

The hottest equal rights topic now, of course, is gay marriage. While taking a back seat to the economic downturn, Iraq and myriad foreign policy issues, the public needs to reconcile its personal attitudes towards the union with the legal imperatives of equality.

In the land of the free and equal, somehow our government has the nerve to grant rights to one segment of our population with no justifiable reason. Many other cut-and-dry rights restrictions have fundamental logic behind them. For instance, permitting a small child to consume alcohol goes against the health and welfare of society. Thus, regulating alcohol consumption is in the interest of society’s health. Likewise for gun ownership regulations and the driving age.

But what’s that the fundamentalist religious say? Homosexuality is depraving and strikes at the roots of society. While that may have been true in fifteenth century cultures centered around religion, it is most certainly not true of a 21st century America in which more people pray to the all-mighty dollar (or Euro, as the current economy would have it), than to any single Lord. Selecting one set of beliefs to legislate inherently contradicts Congress’ responsibility to “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” While I respect the view that marriage is a sacred religious bond, Americans, the pioneers of freedom, have the obligation to grant all of their people equal rights. For those offended by homosexuals, recall the shock at granting women the right to vote in 1920 or at the abolition of Jim Crow and segregation in the 1950s-’60s-’70s. Society will endure, but please do not force us through another thinly-veiled crusade.

The irony in homosexual marriage is that it only affects those getting married. What does it matter to the regular religious devotee if Stephanie and Jane want to legally express their devotion to each other?

If said devotee finds such affection immoral, he has the right to be rude (and ignorant). Disliking people is not illegal. Living in a free society grants us options on what we can do that far outstrip what we actually do. Therein lies the beauty of America and rights activism.

Decades after the climax of the civil rights movement, we remain distant from MLK’s dream, but the first step towards a tolerant society is eliminating the de jure barriers. The societal factors will follow when people realize that black people can kiss white people and gays can marry without the world ending.

Lee is a recent graduate who wonders how Kam’s got rid of the telltale scent.