All Men are Created Equal – English Informal Essay
All Men Are Created Equal. It is a very choice statement, one I think many people seem to of forgotten during periods of our country’s history. This statement I feel was meant to sum up the vast differences that encompass the people of this country, and at the same time, put them all aside, so we all could live in a state of peace. Yet it ponders me today in the early
years of the 21st century, how we could still deny equal rights to people in this country. One specific group that I feel currently are being singled out are Gay Americans.
Over our nation’s 200+ year history, there always has been one social element of the population that seems to be singled out during any given time in history. In the 1800’s there was the fighting both politically and literally over the aspect of slavery and African Americans. The early 1900’s brought women under the gun, having to strive for equal treatment under the law. African Americans were again brought into the limelight with the fighting for civil rights and protection under the law in the 1950’s and 60’s. The first decade of the new millennium brings with it political and social conflict with the equal treatment and protection under the law of Gay Americans.
Although accurate statistics are impossible to gage, there are an estimated 16.5 million Gay Americans that currently have no federal protection under the law. One area that I feel this impact can most be viewed is in the Hate Crime act, originally passed in 1969 but which has been ratified many times since. This act gives specific groups of the population federal protection against crime, and with it allows the FBI to investigate and prosecute people responsible for crimes against the segment of the population. Currently, sexual orientation is not under the list of covered segments. A definitive example of this lack of protection can be illustrated in the beating death of Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old student in Wyoming that was severely beaten and tied to a fence and left to die. His accusers were put on trial, but were unable to be prosecuted at the federal level, because even though this was a hate crime, the elements of the case did not allow it to fall under federal jurisdiction because the classification of sexual orientation is not under law.
Another major right denied to Gay Americans that has become a major subject for fierce debate is the right to marry. Currently, there are over 2000 federal rights that are denied to Gay Americans, simply because they cannot marry; these benefits are as mundane as being able to visit a loved one in the hospital, to not receiving social security or death benefits. Currently Massachusetts is the only state in America where Gay Americans can now legally wed, but the benefits gained from it are only on the state level, and are not extended to the federal level. The current battle for equality over marriage is reminiscent to that of the anti-marriage laws that were law in many states that banned interracial marriage, and were only recently overturned in the mid 1960’s.
With the advent of a Republican controlled Senate and House, many people are concerned with the passing of a constitutional amendment that would ban marriage indefinitely for Gay Americans by declaring marriage in the United States as that between a man and a woman only. President Bush, in his most recent State of the Union address, stated that he supports such an amendment. Though it is questionable whether or not it would pass on the federal level, many states such as Connecticut and New York are planning on debating the issue in the current 2005 legislative session.
With many countries around the world passing marriage equal laws for Gays, and having protection laws on the books for several decades, it seems that the United States is falling behind in the race for equal protection for all; kind of ironic since we were the first people to coin the statement for equality for all.
“All Men are Created Equal”; has a nice ring doesn’t it?