Our View: Equality en vogue

It’s become an expectation in history for each generation to have some kind of defining struggle – a particular social movement that supersedes others and stands out as a relevant gauge on the popular morals and attitudes of the generation.

If anything, our generation has been convicted of standing for nothing in comparison to our parents’ or grandparents’.

Critics charge modern information overload and an increasingly overwhelming mass media fuel this apathy. They say we’re immobile and disinterested in our place in the larger scheme of world history, and that we’ll be incapable of keeping things going once older generations die away.

This weekend, we saw our generation’s defining struggle come to a head across the nation. A sort of new-age civil rights struggle reared growing unrest in its support, and the fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans became the obvious problem we Millennials will have to solve in our lifetime.

If anything, our generation has been convicted of standing for nothing in comparison to our parents’ or grandparents’.

Thousands of supporters marched on their local city halls in protest of Proposition 8 Saturday afternoon. The California ballot initiative passed Nov. 4, overturning a May California Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage. If the court upholds the new measure, more than 18,000 people will no longer be married.

The race to defeat Prop 8 was a heated one, with popular politicians and companies urging Californians to vote against the issue on Election Day. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, spent $22 million to support Prop 8 in the form of advertising riddled with false claims. Mormons have been specifically blamed for this so-called victory for ignorance and hate, and they and their temples have been the targets of violence during the past two weeks.

While we support those who are fighting for equality for all people, it is unproductive to waste energy retaliating against one group who actively fought against equal rights for another. One could point fingers at a variety of reasons Prop 8 passed. Polls painted a favorable picture until they got too close to rely on during the last few months of the election. Exit polls revealed an unexpected 70 percent of black Californians voted in support of Prop 8.

And then there’s that lack of pre-emptive interest on the part of our generation to fight against laws that restrict people’s rights based on inherent characteristics. In 2004, a lack of resolve to stop Issue 1’s passing meant Ohio joined 11 other states in supporting a same-sex marriage ban. Historically, this generation has been too retroactive with the causes in which we believe.

That’s finally changing. President-elect Barack Obama’s victory was one of the biggest blows to the issue of racism in the United States – a civil rights struggle addressed and hugely overcome during our grandparents’ mid-life and parents’ childhood. Those thousands of college and high school students who took up “No H8” signs on Saturday signaled another milestone in our nation’s history. A new generation of American youth is realizing freedom does not come easy; it will not simply be handed to us, and we cannot continue to reap the benefits of the those who came before us without working to guarantee their endurance.

This year will be remembered for its remarkable social change forever, but don’t let this passion die. Forty years ago, racism still pervaded our nation’s laws. Year by year, we’ve chiseled out that prejudice, and now we’re slowly letting it seep back in. Stand up and realize this is what we’re going to be remembered for, and make a choice that you’re not going to stand to live in a nation that legitimizes double standards anymore.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.