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Thursday, November 19, 2009

When the History Books Are Written

By Alexa Valavanis

I’m just grateful we found water on the moon in 2009. If we had waited another month to find ice on the lunar surface I’m afraid the entire decade could have been deemed, ‘The Great Pause’; as in a cease in progress; a stop in forward movement; a freeze.

It began with the great trepidation of Y2K, a fear that now appears more like profound foreshadowing than a likely reality. But who among us, save the doomsayers and the conspiracy theorists, could have fathomed the ‘00s?

Who could have imagined a deception that would start a conflict in Iraq but result in a war with no foreseeable end? Which one of us could have predicted an economic meltdown that would split the citizens of the world’s superpower into those whose nest eggs dissolved and those who would struggle to buy a dozen eggs?

There is no doubt that the ‘00s will be a decade the historians, and poets alike, offer extensive prose. However, when the history books are written, I believe, something will emerge as a far greater consequence to the long-term strength and health of this nation than the economic and institutional mayhem.

Today, we are witnessing a movement, from Maine to California, to deny basic rights to citizens of the United States, while preserving and protecting the same rights for others citizens. Simply put, gays and lesbians do not have the same right to marry and the state-protected benefits that go along with marriage as their heterosexual counterparts.

Allowing the majority to determining the rights of our minorities through ballot measures is a betrayal to our republic. To say nothing about the duplicitous campaign against gay rights that is planting deceit and lies in our town halls across America.

To put it plainly:

1) There is no correlation between the rights of gays to marry and school indoctrination of our children. This is a lie.

2) There is no correlation between protecting the rights of gays to marry and the tax-exempt status of churches. This is also a lie.

Furthermore, regarding the method of popular vote being utilized: When did we decide we could or should give our majority the opportunity to vote on the basic rights of our minorities?

In better words, James Madison’s states in the Federal Paper 51,

"It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.”

Consider what progress we would have made in civil rights if it had been contingent on a popular vote? How ludicrous it sounds to ask for a popular vote to determine whether or not to integrate our schools.

Our basic rights are not voted on in America. Our basic rights are not up for election. Our basic rights are not awarded to some citizens and denied to other citizens based on similarities or differences that might exist. That is precisely why we are America!

In the end the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the matter of marriage equality for all U.S. citizens, a ruling that will be based on our U.S. Constitution and not state constitutions or a popular vote.

This is why our courts were created; to protect minorities against the unfair will of majorities. But we know even the highest court of our land, ruled on the wrong side of equality at one time when in 1857 the US Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Robert B. Taney, declared that all blacks – slaves as well as free – were not and could not become citizens of the United States.

So how long will it take to get this right? The winter of 2009 is quickly approaching. The historians are preparing to name and lock up the decade for eternity. So I ask you, what could be more damaging to the future of our nation; a nation built on the very will for freedom and individual rights, than to seize its heart?

There is no war we could wage, no economic meltdown we could suffer, no infrastructure collapse we could endure that would cause more damage to our nation than to rape (one ballot measure at a time) the very body of freedoms we have fought so tirelessly to have – and to hold.

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