Independence Day 2010

I see all of you with your families, your children, your rewarding lives together, and I am proud of you for creating a place for yourselves where you and your spouses are safe, happy, encouraged and pleased. I am proud that he has learned the lessons our parents taught us to be hardworking, curious, ethical and conscientious in everything he does. You all have made a life for yourself that can only be possible in this great country. In other parts of the world, you may have been restricted by your class, lack of education, different religious beliefs, or ethnicities. You may have been relegated to a menial position in society based on your color, name, or nationality.

But you were born and raised in the United States of America, where our national understanding is that we are all ‘created equal’. Sometimes we take for granted the words of our sacred documents, those powerful phrases that Thomas Jefferson wrote 234 years ago this Spring, that all men are created equal, that our creator has endowed us with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life. , freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We all know these words and we proudly recite them at least once a year, on our National Independence Day. Unfortunately, all too often we keep them for the rest of the year, taking them for granted, forgetting things that I am about to remind you of in this letter.

At Pentecost: The words that Mr. Jefferson wrote are truly powerful and moving. At the time they were written, they weren’t just amazing, they were radical in nature. In fact, they were traitors. Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Locke, Sherman, the men who guided the document that created this nation, knew better than anyone that having written those words and then pasted their signatures on the paper, exposed them to the charges of King George the 3rd that could result in your execution. It was no small thing; these men were declaring, on paper, for the whole world to read, that they and all the settlers had a “right to be free.” They were throwing down the gauntlet, saying, in effect, that we will no longer obey the laws, treaties, tax demands, or the subjugation of the British Empire, the most powerful nation the world has ever known. Those men were all British subjects and many of them felt they were signing their death warrant.

Many years of revolution, hardship and despair followed before the Declaration of Independence meant more than just a piece of paper signed by a group of wealthy white men and landowners, who wanted to free themselves from the heel of England’s boot so they could trade and do. treaties on their interests. own and get even richer. But you see, and this is the part that sounds unpatriotic, Mr. Jefferson never intended freedom for “all” men. Not really. At the time of signing, what he and his colleagues had in mind were educated, white, Christian, male owners. Notice that he did not write ‘all men and women are created equal’. Mr. Jefferson owned several slaves. He had included language in the Declaration aimed at gradually eliminating the peculiar institution of slavery, with the intention of moving blacks, eventually, to another country. But Jefferson’s anti-slavery language was removed from the final document, in order to gain approval from other slave-owning signatories, allowing the Declaration to be approved. In fact, our national freedom document was signed by a group of men who never imagined the logical words, indeed, the ones intended to be applied in their entirety to “all men.”

They never intended, for example, that “all men” meant ALL MEN. There was the persistent problem of what to do with men who owned no property, but were nonetheless agitated for the right to vote. And they got those rights too, but not without a fight. They were never intended to include men of color. Anyone who knows our history between 1861 and 1865, from Sumter to Appomattox, knows what happened when that struggle broke the country and blacks asserted their rights. The principle of “cover-up” was law at the time. Coverture kept the women dependent, denying them the right to own property, receive an education, or earn an income without her husband’s approval. 144 years after the signing of the Declaration, women finally won the right to vote and the underground disappeared. It could be argued that Mr. Jefferson’s powerful words, as simple and radical as they were at the time, were exclusive, not inclusive, which is what they should have been if his central theme of equality for ‘all men’ was what he really meant. Instead, our National Declaration of Independence is even today a work in progress.

Because those words have been the object of interpretation, and even armed struggle at times, our history is littered with the debris of battles between those who claim their rights and those who would deny them those rights, for whatever reason.

The Constitution of the United States, at least in the beginning, gets it right. “We the People” begins. Not men, not women, not white, black, Christian, Muslim but ‘People’. The Constitution guarantees rights through its various amendments that have been approved over the years, when various modifications were deemed necessary to secure the rights of a segment of “We the People” that would otherwise be denied. One of the most important amendments, added in 1868, is the fourteenth. Section 1 of the 14th Amendment is known as the Equal Protection Clause. Simply put, it says that any citizen of the United States is entitled to equal protection under the law. This is important, because up to that point, various groups of people could be denied their day in court, simply because of who they were. With the exception of the 18th amendment that creates the ban, and the 21st that repeals it, each amendment aims to protect a group of citizens who would otherwise be disenfranchised in American society. This is also important. The Constitution is not a sword; it is a shield. The document that establishes our rights as citizens was never intended to protect the powerful, or the majority, but rather the weak and the minority.

We have reached yet another point in our history where a group of fellow citizens are systematically denied all rights and protections. Regardless of how you feel about their people, practices, beliefs, or identifications, our LGBT brothers and sisters, contrary to the 14th Amendment and various other founding documents, are denied equal protection and the full benefit of citizenship in the United States. United States of America. . In fact, they are accredited members of ‘We the People’. They easily fall under the definition of ‘all men’ and now rightly demand their full rights, protections and benefits under our laws and Constitution. One of the rights they claim is the right to marry the person they love. Despite Supreme Court rulings that marriage is a human right by definition, LGBT people in America are being restrained from the full, rewarding, stabilizing, and socially empowering power of equality in civil marriage. This is simply wrong and the stain of this restriction must be removed. It is time to stop denying that segment of our society the full and guaranteed rights it demands. Note that I am not referring to marriage, nor do I write about religious or religious marriage. It is not about the Bible, religion, sin, ethics or morality. The only moral question here is how anyone who claims to be an American can, in good conscience, continue to oppose such blatant discrimination and live with its hypocrisy. The same separation between church and state that protects their religious beliefs from government interference must simply protect the civil rights of all citizens. At present this is not the case. For those who fear the demands of LGBT people to force churches to perform marriages, or to hire people whose lives and identities they disdain, I am completely on your side. If the state tries to coerce such things, I will stand at your church door with you demanding that the state desist. For the ministers, priests, rabbis or mullahs who still preach the myth of a homosexual agenda, let me put this in plain language: either they are actively wrong or they are liars. They are using fear and intimidation to force you to support them, and they are simply lying to you. Anyone claiming to be a man or woman of God who preaches hatred and division should be ashamed of this reprehensible behavior, expelled, and sent packing.

I look at heterosexual couples and see them enjoying those rights: getting married, establishing a safe and loving home, building a life together, raising children in a safe environment, strengthening the social status of marriage by their example, and I see a very good thing. I see a state of marriage that fits my own definition. Then I see people, including some from my own family, who enjoy those same rights and privileges, but actively deny them to other people, and I am ashamed. If you truly appreciate what you and your spouse have built together, the love, joy, and commitment that you value above all else, but then refuse to allow another human being that same joy and satisfaction, shame on you. Examine your conscience and reconsider this hateful behavior. You will feel better and your fears will be unfounded.

The demand for equality in civil marriage not only recognizes the denial of rights, and a way to rectify that denial, the perspective elevates the status of marriage, by greeting a group of people who actively demand their rights and benefits. I see heterosexual couples taking the state of marriage for granted every day, unaware that many of the rights within marriage have been modified and refined over many years. Not long ago, men could rape their wives and expect the full protection of the law. This is no longer the case, but only because the women demanded change. The coverage is no longer part of the marriage. Restricting the ability of women to earn money, own property, or educate themselves today would be ridiculous. In 1967, it was illegal in sixteen states for blacks and whites to marry each other. Denying the marital rights of interracial couples today would be ridiculous. Marriage has changed and evolved over the years to become what it is today: a rite – and a right – defined not by property and privilege, but by love. Couples do not marry for procreation, property, or convenience. They marry for love. Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters fall in love every day, just like we do; they want to establish homes and families together, just like us; They want to dedicate their lives to each other, protect, nurture, intercede and encourage each other, just as we do. And they want to get married, like us. It is time for us to leave them.

It is time, my friends. It is time to acknowledge that grave disgrace is perpetuated in this great country. We Americans are denying a basic human right to people who only want to join us in celebrating the strongest bond that society knows, the marriage of two people who love and appreciate each other. It is time to recognize that there are gays and lesbians, that they love and work with each other every day, that they have the same wishes, dreams and duties as us. It is time for it to be recognized that equality in civil marriage is simply the right thing to do. The moment has come.