Our View: No change for double standards

DKS Editors

Many of us sat teary-eyed last Tuesday night as President-elect Barack Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two girls, Malia and Sasha, took the stage at Chicago’s Grant Park following his election as the 44th President of the United States. There were so many reasons to celebrate Obama’s victory. It was a certain sigh of relief for a country plagued by strained race relations since its inception more than 230 years ago. It was a true beacon of hope for all those of color in America, a moment signifying this truly is a nation where all dreams come true. It was change exemplified in one man – change demanded across our nation and the world over.

But as Americans passed another historic milestone, some parts of our country took three steps backward.

As the hurdle of race was overcome, the roadblock of sexual orientation solidified its place as this generation’s civil rights battle. In California, Proposition 8, which reversed a May California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage, passed 52-48. Florida and Arizona also joined Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Oregon – and Ohio – as states with constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Additionally, Arkansas passed an initiative specifically banning gay couples from adopting children.

If Proposition 8 is upheld by the California Supreme Court, 18,000 same-sex marriages will be nullified. Despite the lifelong commitments those partners made to one another and the vows they shared, this legislation would strip them of their rights and obligations to one another.

If this initiative isn’t enough of a complete blurring of the Constitutional divide of religion and politics, consider that now, in all, 26 percent of our country finds it necessary to explicitly define marriage in discriminatory language. “Between one man and woman” makes “between two men” or “between two women” less valid and less approved in the eyes of the government and society, and above all, it has established yet another double standard in our nation’s history.

As two general elections have now proved to be setbacks for this minority, it’s obvious we need to retune our social and political mindset in the United States. There was a time when a black man and a white woman couldn’t get married in this country, an idea that seems ridiculous to our generation but memories of which are painful to our parents and grandparents. We’ve overcome an era when an epidemic ravaged a minority, ignored by leaders because a public pledge of support would’ve proved political suicide. We live in a time when we can celebrate the tearing down of walls for women and blacks, although it seems to be at the disadvantage and further disenfranchisement of gays and lesbians.

So while, for many, those Election Night tears were those of joy and celebration, for millions of LGBT Americans, they were also bittersweet. The ceiling shattered by Obama’s election is undeniably crucial to perpetuating our nation’s ideals, but there’s a new battle that needs to be addressed. It’s a struggle perpetuated by a long-standing intertwining of politics and religion, a conflict rooted in fundamental identities and a debate that all but discounts the First Amendment.

Our generation is not apathetic. We proved that much by turning out in droves to support a president in whom we believed. But if we can’t see past long-standing ignorance and misinformation and demand equality for all Americans, then that change and hope we supported, believed in and voted for will turn out to be just another lost cause in the annals of history.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.